Crescent Dunes 110 MW concentrated solar energy project wins Department of Interior approval

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has approved the Crescent Dunes Concentrating Solar Power Project, the ninth large-scale solar facility green-lighted as part of the administration’s initiative to encourage rapid and responsible development of renewable energy on U.S. public lands.

The Concentrating 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.

“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 in signing the Record of Decision. “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.”

The project, proposed by SolarReserve’s Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC of Santa Monica, California, is sited on approximately 2,250 acres administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) about 13 miles northwest of Tonopah in Nye County, Nevada. 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.”

“These energy projects exemplify the collaborative partnerships we have developed to help achieve our common goals to protect our natural environment while utilizing America’s wealth of renewable energy resources,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey. “I want to thank all of our partners in the development of the Crescent Dunes Environmental Impact Statement and especially recognize the contributions of Nellis Air Force Base and the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, which analyzed several proposed project sites. By working together we were able to identify the optimal location for the facility and minimize operational impacts to Nellis and the Air Force’s testing mission.”

The BLM worked closely with state, federal and military agencies to advance an environmentally appropriate project, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the U.S. Air Force, as well as members of the environmental and conservation community. To minimize impacts to biological resources, the BLM selected an alternative plan that reduced the project size from 7,680 acres to 2,250 acres, with a development footprint of 1,776 acres. Following extensive public environmental review, the BLM published the Notice of Availability for the final environmental impact statement on November 26, 2010.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC can qualify for grants in lieu of tax credits – up to 30 percent of the project’s eligible costs – as well as Department of Energy loan guarantees to assist with the construction of the facility. The developer has acquired a power purchase agreement with NV Energy; electricity produced at the facility will interconnect to NV Energy’s grid through a transmission line to be built from the site to the existing Anaconda Moly Substation, about six miles north of the site.

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.

Crescent Dunes will also have thermal energy storage capability which will help during the state’s peak electricity demand periods, including evenings in summer, 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.

This announcement is part of an historic Administration-wide effort to advance a renewable energy economy. In 2010, the Department of the Interior has approved nine large-scale solar energy projects – the first to be built on U.S. public lands in California and Nevada – that, cumulatively, will generate more than 3,600 megawatts, power more than 1 million homes and generate more than 7,000 jobs.


Location: Nye County, Nevada Technology: Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Plant
Electricity production capacity: 110 megawatts Company: Solar Reserve’s Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC (Santa Monica, CA)

BY THE NUMBERS – the project is expected to:

Provide electricity to power up to 75,000 homes during peak electricity demand periods.

Create 450-500 new jobs at peak construction and up to 50 permanent operation and maintenance jobs.

Generate an estimated $140 million in personal income annually through direct, indirect and induced impacts during the peak of construction.

Add an estimated $160 million annually to the gross Nevada state product during peak of construction.

Provide an $850 million investment in U.S. renewable energy infrastructure, aided by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-supported loan guarantees and renewable energy investment tax credits.

Be located on approximately 2,250 acres of public lands. The BLM oversees more than 6.1 million acres in Nye and Esmeralda counties, including 604,535 acres managed for conservation. A SMART, COLLABORATIVE PROCESS: In April of 2009 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) committed to helping the nation reach its clean energy future by guaranteeing coordinated processing, full environmental analysis and public review for specific renewable energy projects where the companies involved had demonstrated they were ready to advance to the formal environmental review and public participation process.

STRONG ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW AND MITIGATION: The BLM worked closely with the military, Federal, state and local partners, members of the environmental and conservation community and interested stakeholders to advance environmentally sound projects.

Smaller Footprint: to minimize impacts to biological resources, the BLM selected an alternative plan that reduced the project size from 7,680 acres to 2,250.27, with a development footprint of 1,776 encompassing acres.
December 9, 2010

ANOTHER RECOVERY ACT LEGACY: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has served as an opportunity to transform the way we use energy, reducing our carbon emissions and create entire new industries based on American resources, ingenuity, and workers. Through the ARRA payments in lieu of tax credits for specified energy program, Tonopah Solar Energy can apply for payments of up to 30% of the eligible costs of the project. These payments are authorized by Section 1603 of the ARRA tax title.

TOWARD A SAFE, CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE: Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is one of the projects that will help achieve the Administration spur a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewable energy on public lands. The State of Nevada is working to achieve a 25% Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2015.