By Mark Waite
Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi inserted another “emergency” action item during a routine county commission conference call on Monday, this time to resolve a last-minute snag that would allow SolarReserve to close financing Wednesday.
Kunzi said Rob Howe, project manager for the proposed SolarReserve, a proposed 110-megawatt, concentrated solar plant at Crescent Dunes, wanted commissioners to exempt NV Energy from obligations of the development agreement.
Nye County is assigning a U.S. Bureau of Land Management right-of-way for the Anaconda Moly substation to NV Energy, which is several miles from the project site.
Howe said it was a last minute snag that needed to be resolved to close financing, Kunzi said. The U.S. Department of Energy approved a $737 million loan guarantee for the project last April. NV Energy already signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with SolarReserve.
“I don’t see on the agenda something for emergency items. Can we go ahead and do it anyway?” Schinhofen asked.
“We can go ahead and do an emergency item any time. There’s no requirement for an agenda item,” Kunzi said.
Eastley described it as less of a waiver and more of a clarification of the true intent of the development agreement.
Schinhofen wanted assurances the only part of the development agreement that would be changed is the right-of-way before casting his vote.
Kunzi, who took office in January, introduced an emergency item at a July 26 county commission teleconference to join a federal lawsuit over Yucca Mountain.
In his justification for the emergency action, Kunzi said the Pahrump Valley Times was interpreting emergencies too strictly. In a letter to the PVT, Kunzi wrote, “emergencies are the result of unforeseen circumstances that need immediate action.”
SolarReserve spokesman Andi Plocek said Thursday the financing hasn’t closed yet. She said the company can disclose more information next week.
SolarReserve officials had planned an official groundbreaking this month Nye County Interim Community Development Director Darrell Lacy said the plan now is for a ceremony next month when members of the Nevada congressional delegation can attend.
ACS Cobra was selected as the general contractor, they have already broken ground on the salt tower, Plocek said. SolarReserve is preparing an office in the Mizpah Hotel, she said.
SolarReserve will use technology developed by Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, which allows electricity to be stored for up to eight hours after sunset. Solar energy from the heliostats will focus power on the largest molten salt tower in the world. The plant will provide enough power for 75,000 Nevada households.
The SolarReserve project is expected to create 600 direct jobs and more than 4,000 indirect jobs during construction. Once operational it will require 45 employees.
The project is already bringing in workers to Tonopah, putting hotel rooms at a premium, along with other developments like the exploration going on at the Allied Nevada mining project on Hasbrouck Mountain, just across the Esmeralda County line.
Joanne Campbell, general manager of the 88-room Best Western Hi-Desert Inn, said rooms are difficult to get, not only because of people working on the solar project, but drillers exploring for gold and employees doing a six-week stint at the Tonopah Test Range.
“It’s very hard to get rooms at this point here. I’d say for us, we’ve got other things going on too. The test range too also brings in quite a few people. I guess we’re going to be selling out probably through mid-November,” Campbell said.