Saturday, August 2, 2008

BrightSource Energy expanding to Arizona

BrightSource Energy is opening an office and looking for partners in Arizona, according to a recent report in the Phoenix Business Journal.

BrightSource officials have been in discussions with the city of Phoenix about a potential site that could house up to a 400 megawatt solar generating station or more on city land.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said solar power appeals to the city as a method to reduce its energy costs. Partnering with a solar provider also would have the benefit of bringing additional jobs and a more diversified economy to the region.

"We've got to use our resources as a city to get off fossil fuel," he said.

Gordon saw BrightSource's research and development facility, run by subsidiary Luz II, during a trip to Israel earlier this year. That started conversations about how to bring the company's technology to Arizona.

BrightSource has already entered into a series of power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas and Electric Company for up to 900MW of electricity, the largest solar power commitment ever made by a utility. The company is now building plants in Southern California and it's hoping to bring that technology to Arizona, said Tom Doyle, the company's senior vide president for project development.

"When we look at the renewable market, California is a huge market because of its renewable energy portfolio, but so is Arizona," Doyle said.

A 100-megawatt generating station would bring up to 500 construction jobs during the 18 to 24 months it would take to build, and then the facility would run on a staff of about 20 to 24 people, said Joshua Bar-Lev, vice president of regulatory affairs for BrightSource.

That same plant would produce about $240 million in economic benefits over a 30-year period, assuming that it received tax credits for its construction and paid no property tax, Bar-Lev said.

BrightSource has been looking at Phoenix-owned land and has found several parcels that it could use within proximity to transmission lines.

BrightSource is also in discussions with Arizona State University about partnerships they can have, particularly in their construction management program.

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