Reporting on solar power plants — a week late and few dollars short

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System just across the California border. (AP file photo by John Locher)

The Las Vegas newspaper finally got around to printing an AP story about the fact that huge solar thermal power plant just across the border in California is not performing as advertised.

In fact, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System  is producing half of its expected annual output, the story says, though others have put the output at 30 percent of rated capacity or even one quarter — and that was more than a week ago.

Though the story relates that the $2.2 billion project was built by BrightSource Energy with a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee, it doesn’t bother to mention that the billionaire owners are not paying loan payments and are seeking a $539 million cash grant from the Treasury Department, as reported by The Wall Street Journal on Sept. 23.

Though it has been reported that the plant has applied to use more natural gas to get its boilers operating when the sun fails to do the job, the story details that operators had thought they would need to use natural gas an hour a day, but instead are using gas an average of 4½ hours a day. So how much of the plant’s half-capacity production is from solar and how much from gas? Perhaps that’s were the one quarter figure comes from.

The story also makes no mention of the thousands of birds that have been killed in 800-degree heat of the sun’s rays focused by thousands of mirrors on the plant’s 450-foot tall towers.

Harry Reid was once quoted in a BrightSource press release about the Ivanpah project: “I am very happy to see utility-scale solar projects like this one moving forward with strong Administration support, and I am hopeful that this project will serve as a cornerstone of the clean energy economy in the Southwestern U.S. I look forward to BrightSource and other solar companies putting more Nevadans to work by building major projects like this in Nevada very soon.”

In 2010 Harry held a fundraiser at BrightSource’s headquarters in California, shortly after the firm got the $1.6 billion loan guarantee.

A website called The Party Blog reported on some other cozy relationships. Brightsource reportedly paid $40,000 to R&R Partners, supporters of Reid, to work on stimulus funding matters. BrightSource also had a deal with Harvey Whittemore’s moribund Coyote Springs Land Company — Whittemore was tight with Harry until he went to prison for illegal contributions to Reid — for the lease of some land for further solar projects.



25 comments on “Reporting on solar power plants — a week late and few dollars short

  1. nyp says:

    Today’s fun fact: “The U.S. government expects to earn $5 billion to $6 billion from the renewable-energy loan program that funded flops including Solyndra LLC, supporting President Barack Obama’s decision to back low-carbon technologies.”

  2. Eddie InLiberty Hamilton says:

    ELECT 2016 U.S. Senator HAMILTON, Republican Eddie InLiberty of Henderson, Nevada.The LIBERTY Wing of

  3. Rincon says:

    I feel like we’ve been here before…

  4. Steve says:

    You are the Pat Paulson of Nevada politics.

    You should go run the Las Vegas Rock and Roll half marathon….and take as long at Pat did to “run” the Boston Marathon.
    Hint; Pat had an RV following him for a week.

  5. Vernon Clayson says:

    The government expects to “earn”???? “Earn”???? What do they expect to recover, the freaking government doesn’t freaking “earn”, they collect taxes and make expenditures, in these solar projects it’s wild-eyed profligacy, or better said, spending billions as favors to chosen friends. As for recovering anything on solar projects, don’t hold your breath.

  6. Nyp says:

    “Solyndra represented just 1.3 percent of an otherwise strong portfolio, and now that message is coming home to roost. Last week, the department revealed its much-maligned loan program has started turning a profit and is on track to make taxpayers $5 billion or more, according a first-ever estimate of gains.”

  7. Nyp says:

    “The agency has lent a total of $34.2 billion with the aim of speeding development of clean-energy technology, and companies have defaulted on just $780 million of that so far, a loss rate of roughly 2 percent. In addition, the agency has collected $810 million in interest, putting the program $30 million in the black. The findings are particularly striking because the program was never expected to make money. When it was created in 2005, Congress predicted there would be losses and set aside $10 billion to cover them. “If we only go after projects we know are going to succeed,” Joe Aldy, who worked as a special assistant to the administration for energy in 2009, told Bloomberg Businessweek recently, “all we’re doing is subsidizing people for what they’d do anyway.”

  8. Steve says:


    Who was President in 2005?

  9. Nyp says:

    George W. Bush. He deserves credit for supporting government programs designed to foster non- fossil fuel energy companies.

  10. Steve says:


    that had to hurt.

  11. Nyp says:

    Not really. He did a few good things along w a lot of terrible things

  12. Steve says:

    Same as NObama

  13. zip says:

    Since Reid didn’t get to do his ‘solar panel Chinese deal’ outside of Vegas, Bundy Ranch area, he’s sticking his fingers in this instead: Harry Reid Wants To Attach Part Of SOPA To Surveillance Reform Bill
    REform = Conform into his imagination of what should be.

  14. Rincon says:

    For those of you that are critical of government providing money for nascent industries, try Googling Embrapa, the government agency charged with bringing agriculture to the cerrado. From 1996 to 2006, the value of Brazil’s agricultural production rocketed from $23 billion to $108 billion as a result of their efforts. In another effort, Brazil also famously got off of foreign oil while we continue to pay dearly for our addiction. Neither would have occurred readily if private enterprise had been left to its own devices. Those kinds of successes likely more than made up for any Brazilian Solyndras. Although government generally should keep its hands off things which private enterprise does well, there are areas where private enterprise won’t swing it without some help.

  15. Winston Smith says:

    It’s not a matter of being “critical of government providing money for nascent industries”, it is a matter of whether the federal government was delegated that power by the states through the Constitution.

    It was not. Nuff sed…

  16. saved says:

    There’s a vast difference of being ‘critical of the Gov.’ vs ‘critical of those people usurping powers’ of the Gov. for the Agenda or selfish gain. Much of the ills that go on are because the Constitutional Gov. is NOT upheld or honored. Rather those in charge disregard the rights of the people and ‘condition the thinking of the populous’ to ‘believe’ what their doing is for their good, when it ISN’T. This AGENDA is designed to further more power, money and resources to the few by stealing / taking it from the many. Believing the Lie over Truth doesn’t result in liberty and freedom rather ‘slavery’ — being bamboozled and thinking one smart.

  17. Athos says:

    Couldn’t have put it better myself, “saved”.

    Thank you.

  18. Nyp says:

    Who are “the few”?

  19. Athos says:

    “Who are “the few”?” That’s an easy question – The Marines!

  20. Steve says:

    Brazil got their agriculture going by killing the rain forest, Rincon. And the Foreign oil you say they got off of is middle east oil. They still import plenty of the really dirty stuff refinable only in the US.

  21. Steve says:

    OH,,,Rincon, almost forgot. The US is about to become the largest exporter of crude in the world…and as that Reuters articles points out, the US is no longer the “oil needy” country we used to be.

  22. Rincon says:

    “Rather those in charge disregard the rights of the people and ‘condition the thinking of the populous’ to ‘believe’ what their doing is for their good, when it ISN’T.” Yes, I see what you mean -like going to war in Iraq for example or giving oodles of tax writeoffs to the rich.

    “Brazil got their agriculture going by killing the rain forest, Rincon.” Although Brazilian agriculture destroyed a lot of the rain forest, it’s slowed down greatly in the past several years and is not contributing much to the increase in production. The cerrado is nowhere near the rain forest. It’s savannah and very dry. Look it up. It’s interesting stuff.

    “The US is about to become the largest exporter of crude in the world…” And fusion is only thirty years away. Time Magazine says we still import 40% of our oil. If the price stays low, we will merely increase our consumption as we have in the past. Ain’t gonna happen Steve. You heard it here first. BTW, even if it does, we’ll run low again soon enough that your kids or if they’re lucky, grandkids, will be back in the same spot that we’re in today.

  23. Steve says:

    OK. Doesn’t change a thing about Brazil.

    Agriculture includes ranching. Oil is not what you said. And the US is back on top…for the next generation at least (according to you) Stop being so negative.

  24. Rincon says:

    The productivity gains in the cerrado are in crops, not ranching. And the oil is what I say unless you can show me someone saying I’m wrong. Whether we’re on top is not an issue. As for being negative, I’m not the one whining about how we’ve deserted the Constitution and how the whole country is going to hell as a result (I think the others do this more than you). We do agree that there’s lots that needs fixing; we just can’t quite agree on what needs fixing and how. That’s what makes it interesting.

  25. Can’t agree on how to fix.

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