First Solar Plant on Federal Land Breaks Ground

IVANPAH, Calif. -- The first solar energy project on federal land has broken ground in California's Mojave Desert.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other officials joined in Wednesday's ceremony for the Ivanpah project, located in eastern San Bernardino County about five miles from the Nevada border.

The project, headed by BrightSource Energy, will have three generating plants, built in stages between now and 2013. Its 346,000 billboard-sized mirrors will focus the desert sun on steam turbines, producing enough electricity for 140,000 homes.

Federal funds will cover much of the nearly $2 billion cost. It's one of about a half-dozen solar projects federal officials recently approved for public lands in California and Nevada.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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