Construction has begun on the Patua Geothermal Project, a large plant located in the desert near Fernley, Nev. Once completed in 2012, the first phase of the $300 million plant will generate up to 60 megawatts (MW) of renewable power – enough to provide electricity to around 36,000 homes.
The plant is being developed by Reno-based Gradient Resources. According to Gradient, up to 250 Nevada companies are expected to be involved in the construction of the plant during the next 16 months. About 170 people are expected to be employed on the construction project. Once the construction phased is complete, the plant will employ 32 people in operations and maintenance positions. The plant will have an annual payroll of around $2.5 million. This comes as good news for an area struggling with an unemployment rate of 17 percent.
Gradient already has a buyer for at least some of the the plant’s power; the company announced it had signed a 20-year deal with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Gradient said it is also negotiating other purchase agreements for the site’s geothermal power.
The Patua Geothermal Project is scheduled to proceed in phases. The second phase of the project is scheduled to add another 60 MW of capacity. This is hardly the only geothermal project under way in Nevada; in June, we told you about a $350 conditional federal loan guarantee for Ormat Nevada’s plan that involves three different geothermal electricity generation plants – in Pershing, Lander and Elko counties, respectively – that are expected to produce a combined 121 megawatts of clean power.