Interior Dept. Approves Ninth Large-Scale Solar Power Plant

The concentrated solar power plant will produce 110 megawatts, enough to provide electricity for up to 75,000 Nevada households.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project located in Nye County near Tonopah, Nev.

The concentrated solar power plant will produce 110 megawatts, enough to provide electricity for up to 75,000 Nevada households, and generate about 450-500 new jobs during construction and up to 50 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. In addition, the project has an annual operating budget estimated at more than $5.0 million, much of it expected to be spent locally, with the project forecasted to generate $40 million in sales and property tax revenues over the project’s operating period.

The plant will use concentrated solar thermal “power tower” technology to contribute 485,000 megawatt hours of cost-effective renewable energy annually to the Nevada grid. This innovative technology uses mirror fields to focus solar energy on a tower receiver near the center of the array. Steam from boilers in the tower drives a turbine, which generates electricity for the transmission grid.

SolarReserve will deploy advanced solar energy technology developed in the United States by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation. The facility has the ability to capture and store enough thermal energy each morning to provide electricity at full power all afternoon and for up to eight hours after sunset. This will help during the state’s peak electricity demand periods when solar projects without storage can no longer generate solar energy. The State of Nevada is working to achieve a 25 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2015.

“Crescent Dunes joins a host of renewable energy projects on public lands in the West that are opening a new chapter on how our nation is powered,” Salazar said. “Using American ingenuity, we are creating jobs, stimulating local economies and spurring a sustainable, clean energy industrial base that will strengthen our nation’s energy security.”

Last December, SolarReserve’s wholly owned subsidiary, Tonopah Solar Energy LLC and NV Energy signed a 25-year power purchase agreement for the sale of electricity from the solar energy project. The 110 megawatt solar power tower plant will generate enough clean, reliable electricity to power 75,000 Nevada households.

The project is sited on approximately 2,250 acres administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) about 13 miles northwest of Tonopah in Nye County, Nev. In recent months, the BLM has approved six renewable energy projects on public lands in Nevada — three solar, two geothermal and one wind — as well as a long-distance transmission line that will facilitate the delivery of a variety of energy sources, including renewable energy, to consumers across the western United States.

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