Unions pair with BrightSource to fill construction jobs at solar 440 MW project

Under the Project Labor Agreement (PLA), the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC), and the Building & Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties will provide qualified, skilled craft workers to BrightSource’s Ivanpah project, and Bechtel will provide fair wages, fringe benefits, and working conditions for all craft workers.

"This project is a great example of how the new green technology is now providing real jobs for thousands of workers," said Robert Balgenorth, president of the SBCTC. "This PLA ensures that the jobs will provide good wages and benefits for workers, who will provide the highest quality of work, resulting in new, cleaner energy for generations to come."

"This agreement reflects our positive relationship with Bechtel Construction Company and reinforces our continuing support for this innovative project and the jobs it will generate," said William Perez, executive secretary and business manager for the San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, Building and Construction Trades Council. "The PLA provides the framework under which our members will work on the job site. We are committed to completing this construction job on schedule, within budget and safely."

BrightSource’s Ivanpah facility, comprising three solar thermal power plants, is scheduled to begin construction in 2010 following final permitting by the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The project will result in approximately 1,000 jobs at the peak of construction, with total construction wages of approximately $250 million.

"This is a significant agreement," said Ian Copeland, president of Bechtel Renewables and New Technology. "It not only benefits labor and Bechtel, it benefits the entire renewable energy industry as it grows to meet the increasing demand for clean energy. The success of this agreement will point the way for the construction of future renewable energy projects."

BrightSource’s Ivanpah plants will produce enough clean energy to power 150,000 homes and displace more than 450,000 tons (408,000 metric tonnes) of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 75,000 cars off the road. The power generated from these solar plants will be sold under separate contracts BrightSource Energy established with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE).

"We’re pleased that Bechtel and California labor unions have been able to conclude the PLA for our Ivanpah project, which will provide a significant boost to the High Desert region’s economic development activities," said John Woolard, CEO and president of BrightSource Energy. "Ivanpah will be a model clean energy project, setting the bar with its highly-efficient technology and environmentally-responsible design. We look forward to Bechtel and the unions delivering our project in a timely, cost-effective, high quality manner, with an exemplary safety culture."

The Ivanpah facility will utilize BrightSource Energy’s proven Luz Power Tower 550 technology (LPT 550). The system produces electricity the same way as traditional power plants — by creating high temperature steam to turn a turbine. However, instead of using fossil fuels or nuclear power to create the steam, BrightSource uses thousands of mirrors called heliostats to reflect sunlight onto a boiler filled with water that sits atop a tower. When the sunlight hits the boiler, the water inside is heated and creates high temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional turbine which generates electricity. This fully integrated system takes advantage of high operating efficiencies and low capital costs to provide reliable and low-cost carbon-free energy.

The system is also designed to minimize the solar plant’s environmental impact, reducing the need for extensive land grading and concrete pads. In order to conserve precious desert water, the LPT 550 system uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water, resulting in a 90 percent reduction in water usage compared to conventional wet-cooling. The water is then returned to the boiler in an environmentally friendly closed system. Ivanpah will use approximately 100 acre feet of water — the equivalent of 300 homes worth of annual water use and 25 times less water than used by competing technologies that employ wet-cooling.

Today the company’s LPT 550 solar system is employed at the Solar Energy Development Center (SEDC) in Israel’s Negev Desert. Operating over the past year, the SEDC is producing the world’s highest temperature turbine quality steam from solar energy.

State Building & Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) is the umbrella organization for 160 unions that collectively represent 350,000 skilled construction workers. The building trades spend $100 million a year on training and apprenticeship programs to ensure that our workers have the latest and best skills available for jobs in the new green economy. The SBCTC supports project labor agreements as a means of assuring good wages, benefits and conditions for workers, and the efficient and timely completion of construction projects of the highest possible quality. www.sbctc.org

Bechtel is one of the world’s premier engineering, construction, and project management companies. Since its founding in 1898, Bechtel has worked on more than 22,000 projects in 140 countries on all seven continents. For well over half a century, Bechtel has been a leader in designing, building, and modernizing power plants and advancing innovative power generation technologies. Bechtel is the largest employer of union construction labor in the United States. Today, Bechtel’s 44,000 employees are teamed with customers, partners, and suppliers on hundreds of projects in nearly 50 countries.  www.bechtel.com.

BrightSource Energy, Inc. provides clean, reliable and low cost solar energy for utility and industrial companies worldwide. The BrightSource Energy team combines nearly three decades of experience designing, building and operating the world’s largest solar energy plants with world-class project development capabilities. The company now has contracted to sell more than 2.6 gigawatts of power to be generated using its proprietary solar thermal technology. BrightSource Energy’s solar plants are designed to minimize their impact on the environment and help customers reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., BrightSource Energy is a privately held company with operations in the United States and Israel. To learn more about BrightSource Energy and solar thermal energy, visit www.brightsourceenergy.com