Tonopah solar plant ‘in restart’

SolarReserve is providing updates to its solar energy storage plant in Tonopah and separate plans first announced last fall involve a proposed 10-tower project valued at $10 billion.

The existing Crescent Dunes facility, which had gone offline for repairs last fall, is “in restart now so operations have initiated,” SolarReserve executive Mary Grikas said in an email April 24 to the Times-Bonanza.

“You should have seen the tower lit and will do so in the future,” she said. “Cloudy weather has slowed us down somewhat.”

At a solar energy celebration at the plant last October, the newly opened Crescent Dunes solar plant was called the world’s largest energy storage project.

In early December, Grikas had confirmed that the plant was offline, a shutdown triggered by a salt spill. At the time, she had indicated plans called for the solar plant to be fully online in January. When the Times-Bonanza contacted Grikas in January about the status of the plant and repairs, Grikas wrote in a Jan. 18 email: “Repairs are nearly complete and we expect to be back in full operation shortly.”

In late February, SolarReserve CEO Kevin B. Smith said SolarReserve expected Crescent Dunes to be back online in a few weeks. A hot salt tank issue “took a while to get it fixed, but it’s a pretty low-tech issue,” Smith said. “We’re going to be back up and running. The repairs are actually 100 percent complete, and now we’re back in recommissioning the plant to restart.”

On April 19, Grikas provided the latest information in response to questions asked by the Times-Bonanza.

“The main timeline is to continue with consistent operations,” she said of the Crescent Dunes facility off Gabbs Pole Line Road. “There is still punchlist work going on, which will be going on for some time, plus normal maintenance activities, which are ongoing.”

As for the proposed 10-tower Sandstone solar project, efforts continue by the Santa Monica, California-based SolarReserve.

“… The project is expected to be in the general area of Tonopah even though power sales are expected to be primarily exported to California (a new export product for Nevada),” Grikas said.

“We have not gone public yet with the site selection, but expect to in the next 60 days,” added Grikas, vice president of global communications for SolarReserve.

In October, SolarReserve’s Smith announced plans to build a second solar plant in Nye County, an effort featuring 10 towers initially projected to create about 3,000 construction jobs through a five-to-seven-year project valued at more than $5 billion.

Smith said the 10-tower project would be on land in excess of about 10,000 acres, likely U.S. Bureau of Land Management property, an arrangement that would be similar to the Crescent Dunes project.

Asked about a time frame for a project start, Smith said in October, “We’ve got at least a couple years more of development so we wouldn’t start to look at construction for probably at least two to three years.”

Contact reporter David Jacobs at

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