April 26, 2011 - Ivanpah solar deals with tortoise impacts

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two weeks ago, I noted Google's investment in the 392 MW Ivanpah solar project in California's Mojave Desert, and how it benefited from $1.6 billion in Department of Energy loan guarantees.  Developer BrightSource Energy started construction on Phase I of the Ivanpah project in October 2010, with two subsequent phases slated for development shortly thereafter.  BrightSource's business plan also includes an initial public offering, which led the company to file an S-1 securities registration with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Solar photovoltaic panels above Beaver Mountain ski area near Logan, Utah.
The Ivanpah project has now hit a speedbump in the form of a tortoise.  The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) lives in the Mojave desert, including in the area where the Ivanpah project is proposed.  As a result, BrightSource has apparently stopped work on the construction of Ivanpah's second and third phases.

BrightSource noted in its S-1 filing that "in April 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, advised us that it will require the issuance of a revised biological opinion by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, or FWS, prior to providing permission to proceed with the construction of Ivanpah’s second and third phases".

The Fish and Wildlife Service is reportedly developing that opinion now, which should be finalized over the summer.

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