NRG Energy, Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary, NRG Solar, executed a letter of intent to partner with BrightSource Energy to construct, finance, own and operate the largest solar thermal project in the world, the 392-megawatt (MW) Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in southeastern California’s Mojave Desert. NRG Solar plans to become the lead investor in Ivanpah, investing up to $300 million over the next three years.
Construction has begun on the Ivanpah project and all three phases of the project are expected to be fully operational by mid-2013. The project has received a $1.375 billion conditional commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy for a loan guarantee, and has obtained all permits and approvals from both federal and California state agencies. Electricity from Ivanpah will be sold under multiple power purchase agreements, each of 20-25 years duration with Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.—nearly doubling the amount of commercial solar thermal energy now generated in the United States.
“Solar power is a cornerstone of our strategy to produce and deliver clean, zero-emission products and services to America’s growing number of clean energy consumers,” said David Crane, President and CEO of NRG Energy. “The ambition and scale of Ivanpah, capitalizing on California’s natural solar resource and demand for renewable energy, shows how far we have come in scaling up solar generation and in deploying cutting-edge American technology, creating in the process thousands of American jobs.”
“NRG’s experience operating and owning power plants, coupled with its unmatched understanding of the solar power markets makes it an ideal partner for the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System,” said John Woolard, President and CEO of BrightSource Energy. “At Ivanpah, we’re showing that solar thermal power plants built in an environmentally responsible manner will serve as a critical resource in meeting the world’s growing demand for low-cost and reliable solar power.”
Ivanpah is located approximately 50 miles northwest of Needles, California, about five miles from the Nevada border on federal land managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. Power from the solar field is enough to supply more than 140,000 U.S. homes and avoid nearly 400,000 tons of carbon emissions annually, supporting California’s goal of 33% renewable power generation by 2020. At peak, construction at Ivanpah will employ 1,000 people. 2 Bechtel will serve as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for Ivanpah, and Bechtel will be an equity investor in the project. Bechtel has signed a project labor agreement with State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.
NRG currently owns the largest photovoltaic solar project in California, a 21 MW facility in Blythe. Under a partnership with Eurus Energy America, NRG will co-own three photovoltaic solar facilities in California that, when completed in mid-2011, will generate 45 MW. In June 2010, NRG Solar agreed to purchase a portfolio of nine solar development projects in California and Arizona from US Solar, an affiliate of Arclight Capital Partners, LLC, doubling the Company’s development pipeline to 1,150 MW. Solar projects support NRG’s commitment to increase its portfolio of low- and no-carbon generation assets with diverse technologies, including new nuclear generation, onshore and offshore wind, biomass projects and a commercial-scale carbon