BrightSource To Reduce Size of Ivanpah CSP Facility by 48-MW

BrightSource Energy Inc. has submitted a new design for the Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System project. This mitigation proposal, filed with the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), would reduce the project’s size from 440 to 392 megawatts (MW) and reduce its overall footprint by 12 percent.

The proposal, developed in response to concerns over the environmental and wildlife impacts of the project, puts Ivanpah a step closer to being California’s first solar thermal power plant permitted and constructed in California in nearly two decades.

“We’re constantly evaluating ways to minimize the environmental impact of our solar power plants, and the permitting process and its public comment period provided us with many thoughtful suggestions,” said Steve DeYoung, VP of Environmental Health and Safety for BrightSource Energy. “Our technology has always led the industry in significantly reducing water use and minimizing impact on habitat and the land. With this proposed alternative design, we are further avoiding the habitat of rare plants and other species, and setting another great precedent for projects that follow.”

The mitigation proposal for the Ivanpah project is a direct response to comments and suggestions made during the Ivanpah permitting process’ public comment period.

 If accepted by the CEC and BLM, the alternative design would:

  • Reduce the footprint of the third Ivanpah plant by 23 percent
  • Reduce the footprint of the overall Ivanpah project by about 12 percent
  • Reduce expected desert tortoise relocations by approximately 15 percent
  • Avoid the area identified as having the highest rare plant density
  • Reduce overall number of towers at the Ivanpah project from seven to three
  • Reduce the potential maximum number of heliostats by about 40,000

The Ivanpah project, located in southeastern California, will consist of three separate solar thermal power plants. The power generated from these solar plants will be sold under separate contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). PG&E will purchase approximately two-thirds of the power generated at Ivanpah and SCE will purchase approximately one-third.

The Ivanpah project has been identified as a “fast-track” priority by the U.S. Department of Interior for obtaining federal stimulus benefits for California under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The project has also been selected as one of sixteen short-listed applicants to receive a loan guarantee under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 1703 program and is scheduled to begin construction in the second half of 2010 following issuance of permits by the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

BrightSource and Bechtel, the engineering and construction contractor for the Ivanpah project, estimate that construction of the Ivanpah project will require approximately four million job hours of work and 1,000 union jobs at the peak of construction, and provide 86 permanent jobs.

In December 2009, Bechtel signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside counties to ensure that California’s local workforce benefits from the project. The project will also provide $400 million in local and state tax revenues, and produce $650 million in wages, over its first 30-year life.

“By responding to the last major concerns of environmental groups, BrightSource has taken a major step toward realizing President Obama’s vision of rebuilding the economy with clean energy projects. The new alternative reduces impacts on the desert environment so that we can have clean solar energy, 1,000 good new construction jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars injected into the California economy,” said Marc Joseph, representative of California Unions for Reliable Energy.