Praised by the Obama administration as a shining example of clean energy realized, the massive Ivanpah solar power plant in California is facing a dim future on the taxpayers’ dime.
How dim? Oh, about three times what Solyndra burned through in loan guarantees — or about $1.6 billion, according to Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., during a House hearing.
This, on news that regulators in the Golden State are considering unplugging Ivanpah and its 170,000 shining heliostat mirrors for not generating the amount of promised electricity, The Daily Caller reports. Based on government data, the plant generated only 45 percent of its projected power in 2014 and 68 percent in 2015.
Ivanpah has until month’s end to comply with a power purchase agreement, which is in doubt after a recent accident closed one of its boiler towers.
Engineering issues and “an inordinate number of partly cloudy days” took their toll when the plant opened, according to an NRG Energy official. Failing to meet its expected output, Ivanpah naturally sought a $539 million federal grant to help pay down its loan.
The plant is even generating heat from environmentalists, who say its heliostats are incinerating thousands of birds.
Would Ivanpah (or other federally subsidized renewable energy projects) have fared better on the initiative and innovation of private investment? That’s more than likely. But sadly once again, we’ll never know.
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