February 22, 2010

Federal government loans $1.37 billion for BrightSource project

Artist rendering of BrightSource's Ivanpah solar project near Primm.

Desert Dispatch

BrightSource energy will receive a federal loan that will cover 70 percent of the construction costs for the Ivanpah Solar project near the Nevada stateline, according to company officials.

BrightSource announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Energy has committed to provide a $1.37 billion loan for BrightSource’s 440 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California about five miles from Primm, Nev. BrightSource will also be eligible for a federal stimulus grant when construction begins later this year, said Kristen Hunter, a spokesperson for BrightSource Energy. The grant could cover about 30 percent of the project, she said.

“Once permitting is complete, this is a huge influx to help with construction costs,” Hunter said. “So it’s definitely a major step forward on that.”

Once construction for the project is complete, Hunter said BrightSource will have to pay their loan back, but she couldn’t comment as to when the loan would have to be paid by. The contractual agreements between BrightSource and the DOE are confidential, she said.

Andy Silva, spokesman for First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, who opposes the location of the Ivanpah project, said the supervisor’s office will have to get more details from the DOE before commenting on the loan. The Board of Supervisors announced its intention to intervene in the project Feb. 9.

BrightSource’s Ivanpah project was singled out in November by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar as being one of six renewable energy projects most likely to begin construction in 2010. The project is expected to create 1,000 temporary construction jobs.

“As home to one of the world’s best solar fields and the nation’s largest green economy, it is no surprise the world’s largest solar energy project would choose California, said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a statement. “Our ambitious environmental policies are promoting the growth of clean, reliable energy in our communities and growing green jobs up and down the state.”