Generation at Ivanpah ‘Improved Dramatically,’ NRG Says

Generation at Ivanpah ‘Improved Dramatically,’ NRG Says

The world’s biggest solar-thermal power plant is finally producing enough electricity.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in Southern California initially failed to meet contractual obligations, and a yearlong forbearance deal with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. expired Wednesday. After fine-tuning the complex facility that uses 170,000 mirrors, output is up and it’s no longer at risk of defaulting on the deal, according to David Knox, a spokesman for operator and co-owner NRG Energy Inc.

“We are currently in compliance with the contract,” Knox said in an interview. “The generation has improved dramatically.”

PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles declined to confirm whether the plant was meeting its obligations, saying that California’s biggest utility is reviewing Ivanpah’s performance. The contract with the owners — NRG, BrightSource Energy Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google — remains in place, and the company is working with NRG on the next steps for the project, Boyles said.

“It’s not going to be long until we know what those next steps are,” Boyles said in an interview.

The 377-MW facility, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert, received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy and began operating in February 2014.

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