- The California utility regulators approved a proposal by Pacific Gas and Electric at a meeting Thursday that aims to avoid a declaration of default through July 31 if owners of the world's biggest concentrating solar plant, Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, pay the utility for undelivered electricity, Bloomberg reports.
- In the agreement, the Ivanpah owners, which include NRG Energy, BrightSource Energy, and Alphabet’s Google, agreed to pay the investor-owned utility for undelivered electricity required by the power purchase agreements (PPAs) on the 126 MW Ivanpah unit 1 and the 133 MW unit 3 instead of defaulting on the contract.
- The agreement allows the 392 MW concentrating solar plant to under-deliver until the operators ramp output up to 100%, which the Wall Street Journal reports to be at 40% in June, 2015.
This is the latest in a series of controversies the Ivanpah solar facility has faced since the CPUC approved the PG&E power purchase agreements (PPA), and another PPA with Southern California Edison for some of output in 2009, and began development in the Mojave Desert in 2010.
Now this agreement signals more confidence from commissioners that the facility's output will improve, Bloomberg reports.
Other controversies dogging the project include impacts on wildlife such as California’s desert tortoise, and local avian life, as well as how its developers handled a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee awarded in 2010.
Even so, the threat of default throws doubt on the project's future, the news outlet said. The plant's builder, BrightSource, told energy officials in 2011 that its cash position was "precarious" and that the plant's failure will be a black mark against the White House, Bloomberg reported.
The CPUC Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) opposed approval of the forbearance agreement, claiming the agreement failed to adequately assess the least-cost impacts for ratepayers and because it does not adhere to the utility "Standard of Conduct."
Those forbearance agreements end August 1 unless PG&E signs a six-month extension.
Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to Eversource energy as the plant builder. That was incorrect. BrightSource is the developer; Eversource is an electric and gas utility in the Northeast U.S.