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LAS VEGAS-Solar thermal plant developer BrightSource Energy said this week it has reached a preliminary agreement with Coyote Springs Land Co. for additional acreage within the Coyote Springs development here for a major solar thermal energy project. The Oakland, CA-based company’s initial agreement, inked in March, covered six square miles, enough land to produce up to 600 megawatts of solar thermal power. The new agreement is for 12 square miles, enough land to produce 960 megawatts, which could power approximately 500,000 homes.

Located northeast of Las Vegas in Lincoln County, the Coyote Springs development will also include several residential and commercial components. The Chase, a PGA golf course, is already operating on the property. Founded and operated by Harvey Whittemore, Coyote Springs Land Co. is an affiliate of the Wingfield Nevada Group, a real estate investment, development and operating company.

The overall Coyote Springs development has already received environmental permits from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and various other federal, state and county agencies. The power generated from the Coyote Springs site is expected to meet demand generated in the Coyote Springs development as well as other parts of southern Nevada, and California.

BrightSource, which has a development center in Israel’s Negev Desert, is pursuing sites for 4 gigawatts of solar power plants in California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. It has applied to place plants on more than a dozen sites managed by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. Its first project is a 440-megawatts facility located in Ivanpah, CA. The Ivanpah project is in the final permitting stages with the California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management, and is expected to begin construction in early 2010.

BrightSource has approximately 2.6 gigawatts of solar power under contract, including a 1,300 megawatt series of agreements with Southern California Edison and a 1,310 megawatt series of agreements with PG&E. Earlier this month, it selected Bechtel as its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the Ivanpah Solar Electricity Generating System. Bechtel also will become an equity investor in the Ivanpah plants.

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