Solar project near Primm offers boost to Southern Nevada

A view of construction at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System just south of Primm in California Monday, August 29, 2011. When completed, the 392 megawatt facility will nearly double the amount of thermal solar energy produced in the United States today.

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

A view of construction at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System just south of Primm in California Monday, August 29, 2011. When completed, the 392 megawatt facility will nearly double the amount of thermal solar energy produced in the United States today. Launch slideshow »

A California company’s solar project a few miles from the Nevada border near Primm is providing an economic boost to Clark County.

During a tour of the site touted as the world’s largest solar energy project, BrightSource Energy officials said that of 480 laborer positions on-site, about 10 to 15 percent of the workers are from Clark County. Most of the rest are from California, but many are residing in Primm or Las Vegas while working on the project whose construction started in October.

Since the project is in San Bernardino County, the union work is overseen by the San Bernardino and Riverside counties’ Construction Trade Council. Their residents get preference in the hiring.

In addition to the union labor, about 220 executive and other positions are from BrightSource and its partner NRG Energy and Bechtel, which is the engineering procurement and construction contractor.

Many of those executives are living in the Las Vegas Valley, officials said.

In addition, 69 firms from Clark County are working as subcontractors on the project named the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.

The contractors are leasing equipment from Cashman Equipment in Henderson.

The project is about 15 percent completed and will go online in 2013, officials said.

At its peak, the project will have about 1,400 construction jobs such as carpenters, desert biologists and engineers.

The project has three plants that will provide 392 megawatts of solar power. BrightSource has signed contracts with PG&E and Southern California Edison to provide power to California customers.

The facility, funded by a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Energy Department, has $300 million invested by NRG and $168 million by Google.

The project will have 340,000 mirrors that measure 7 feet by 10 feet. The mirrors are being manufactured at the site.

BrightSource has several projects in the planning stages for Southern Nevada, including two north of Las Vegas — one near Coyote Springs, and one near Pahrump.

California’s energy needs are targeted with this project because the state requires that 33 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2020. The solar power will wholesale for about 33 to 50 percent more than coal sources and about 25 percent more than natural gas sources.

Nevada is less aggressive in its clean-power mandates than California and requires 25 percent renewable energy sources by 2025.

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  1. I saw the developer's representative on the TV news tonight. What a jerk. Claiming that this project is going to create union construction jobs for Nevadans, when in the next breath he admitted that union members have to go and join locals in San Bernardino County. Good luck with that one guys. The long time members of that local will have first dibs on those union jobs.