The U.S. Bureau of Land management approved the Ivanpah Solar Project on Thursday, paving the way for construction of the 3,471-acre solar power facility near the Nevada border.
The power plant — estimated to provide energy to 140,000 homes — will also generate 1,000 area union jobs, according to release from BrightSource Energy, the company behind the project.
The Ivanpah project is one of three solar energy projects to be constructed on Southern California public land approved in the last week by the BLM. With the BLM's approval, BrightSource now has all necessary permits for construction.
BrightSource Energy was awarded $1.37 billion in conditional loans for the project through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. If construction begins by the end of this year, BrightSource will also be eligible for ARRA payments of up to 30 percent of eligible costs for the project.
The plant will employ "power tower" technology, where an array of mirrors focuses sunlight to a tower containing boilers that will generate steam to power turbines, according to a BrightSource release.
Barstow Mayor Joe Gomez said that he was "ecstatic" about the BLM's decision.
"I'm all for it," said Gomez. "We need to be headed in that direction. I would like to see Barstow as the capitol of alternative energy."
A spokesman for First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said that Mitzelfelt had no comment on the project's approval at this time.
Mitzelfelt said late last year that he was concerned the solar plant would benefit Las Vegas more than San Bernardino County, and that potential tax revenue would be lost because BrightSource was buying private land for tortoise habitat and turning it into public land.
The size of the solar plant was reduced by 15 percent recently after environmental review by the BLM, in order to minimize the impact on the endangered desert tortoise population.
BrightSource filed its application for the Ivanpah project in 2007. Power generated from the Ivanpah project will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison.
Kristin Hunter, spokeswoman for BrightSource, said that construction on the Ivanpah project will begin at the end of the month.
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