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December 19, 2014

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NV Energy agrees to purchase Crescent Dunes solar power

Tonopah

A California-based solar energy developer announced today that power from a planned solar array will be sold to NV Energy.

SolarReserve is in the early stages of Bureau of Land Management environmental review for a planned 100 megawatt solar thermal power plant near Tonopah. The plant would produce enough power to run up to 75,000 homes during the highest demand period.

The plant, called the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project after the nearby recreation area, will be the first solar thermal plant in Nevada to employ heat storage technology that would allow the plant’s steam turbines to run after the sun has set. The plant is in a race to be the first in the nation with this technology. Its main competitor is the Solana-plant, a 280-megawatt solar thermal project planned by Abengoa Solar and Arizona Power Service near Gila Bend, Ariz.

Both projects are slated for completion in 2013.

The Crescent Dunes project would cover about 3,000 acres with hundreds of heliostats — think mirrors arranged like flower petals — which would concentrate the sun’s rays onto a 600-foot-tall tower which heats liquefied salt to create steam and turn a turbine. Some of the heated salt can be rerouted to an insulated storage tank where it can be kept hot until it is needed for the steam turbine after dark.

The project is still in the scoping process, for which public comment closes Thursday. Once the scoping is done, an environmental impact statement will be prepared, which the public can also comment on. Eventually BLM will decide whether or not to allow the plant to be built.

NV Energy has agreed to purchase the power at an undisclosed rate for the next 25 years. The agreement can’t be finalized without Public Utilities Commission approval. A request for approval will be included in the company’s Feb. 1, 2010 integrated resource filing.

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