BrightSource Ivanpah solar plant allowed to resume

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Bureau of Land Management notice on Friday opened the way for construction to resume on all parts of BrightSource Energy Inc’s key Ivanpah solar thermal power plant, saying the project did not jeopardize the threatened desert tortoise.

In April, the BLM ordered BrightSource to suspend construction on the second and third Ivanpah sites because many more tortoises had been found on the site than had been originally anticipated

The project is critical for BrightSource, a start-up that filed earlier this year with U.S. securities regulators for an initial public offering.

Other developers looking to meet California’s massive requirements for renewable energy also are watching Ivanpah closely as a bellwether of whether development is practical in light of environmental regulations.

BLM said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued “new stipulations for translocating tortoise, as well as new requirements for protecting them from predators and increased monitoring and fencing.”

The 392 MW Ivanpah project will consist of three related utility-scale solar thermal power plants located on federal land in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California.

In a statement, the Oakland, California company said it was pleased to be restarting the project and it had implemented a program to “provide support and protection for hatchling and juvenile tortoises during approximately the first five years of life.”

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Andre GrenonGary Hill)

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