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BrightSource breaks ground on Ivanpah solar project

October 27, 2010 | 11:51 am

IVP_Groundbreaking_-_Governor_and_Salazar_at_Podium It's not in China, nor in Germany. It's not in Spain, and it certainly isn't in Texas.

The largest solar thermal project in the world is being built in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger crowed Wednesday morning to raucous applause at the groundbreaking for the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, within sight of the Nevada border.

"Some people look out into the desert and see miles and miles of emptiness," he said at the Mojave Desert event. "I see miles and miles of gold mine."

The plant, backed by Oakland-based BrightSource Energy Inc., is to produce 370 megawatts when it starts operating, scheduled for mid-2013, the company said.

Earlier, the company announced a partnership with Princeton, N.J.-based utility NRG Energy Inc., which will pump $300 million into the Ivanpah project over the next three years.

NRG already owns California's largest photovoltaic solar project –- a 21-megawatt installation in Blythe -– and will become the Ivanpah facility's lead investor.

The Ivanpah project already has a loan guarantee worth nearly $1.4 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy.

"This is the beginning, the Apollo project, the liftoff," said Joshua Bar-Lev, vice president of regulatory affairs for BrightSource. "This is an energy future we control, not one controlled by foreign countries. ... We are the pioneers."

Added Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in a cowboy hat: "We will make believers out of the skeptics."

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Schwarzenegger and Salazar at the podium. Credit: BrightSource.

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