The Solana Generating Station, which will be built at anestimated cost of $4,000 per megawatt, could generate up to $4billion in revenue over a 30-year period in electricity sales toArizona Public Service. It's also projected to bring more than $1billion of economic benefits to the state. The plant will be builtabout 70 miles southwest of Phoenix at the junction of Interstate 8and Painted Rock Dam Road and generate enough power for 70,000homes.

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According to a press release, an estimated 1,500 constructionworkers will build the plant, with 85 permanent employees needed tooperate it. Kate Maracas, vice president of Denver-based Abengoa'sArizona operations, says construction will begin in second quarter2009, allowing the plant to come on line in 2011.

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Maracas tells GlobeSt.com that Gila Bend made sense for AbengoaSolar's first US plant because of its proximity to rail, highwayand water resources. "It's currently an agricultural property, withsufficient water to cool the power plant," she explains. "It's alsoin a location where we're not disturbing anything environmentally."The plant will employ a proprietary Concentrating Solar Powertrough technology developed by Abengoa Solar.

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Maracas says Abengoa Solar is searching for more sites in thesunny Southwest to develop more plants. However, finding the landto support future solar generating plants is somewhat of achallenge because the property needs to have adequateinfrastructure, cooling and space. "There is an infinite amount ofsolar resources, but the land that can support this isn't quite asenormous," Maracas says. She adds, however, that Arizona is anideal spot because there are many parts of the state that offerwhat Abengoa needs.

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Maracas points out that power companies are starting to turnaway from coal-fired resources when it comes to producingelectricity and are moving toward a cleaner and more stable sourceof energy. Abengoa Solar operates the world's first commercialconcentrating solar power plant in Spain and is building three moreplants in that country. Spain is also home to a demonstrationtrough plant and the world's first commercial photovoltaic lowconcentration plant. The company also plans to build plants inAlgeria and Morocco.

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