The Trump administration plans to recover $200 million from a Nevada solar project, which received a loan guarantee from the Obama administration, but ultimately failed.
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The Energy Department announced that it had reached the settlement after exhausting options to get the project back on track. According to the Las Vegas Journal Review, the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant had been shuttered since April 2019 and never turned a profit.
"This project has consistently faced technical failures that have proven difficult to overcome," Shaylyn Hynes, a department spokesperson, said in a statement. "The Department’s decision was made after years of exhausting options within our authority to get the project back on track, given the significant taxpayer investment the prior administration committed to this project."
The $1 billion solar project had been approved by the Obama administration for a $737 million Loan Guarantee Agreement in 2011. The Energy Dept. said that the plant began operation in 2015, but faced tech problems and a number of outages that forced multiple shutdowns and it was not able to meet power generation requirements.
The Crescent Dunes complex was unique, according to the Journal Review. The plant used more than 10,000 mirrored heliostats, each with the square footage of a small house, to focus sunlight on a central tower and heat molten salt inside to more than 1,000 degrees. That salt was used to boil water, producing steam to drive generators.
But an investigation by Bloomberg News found that by the time the plant opened in 2015, its technology had become obsolete.
The Energy Department said that it was owed $424.7 million and settled for $200 million. That deal still needs to be approved by a bankruptcy court, however.
“President Trump will always stand with the hardworking taxpayers of America and today's massive $200 million settlement agreement by the Department of Energy secures taxpayer money that was squandered by the previous Administrations' failed energy pet projects," a senior administration official told Fox News.
The administration rejected claims that the project was being abandoned because it does not believe in renewable energy. Trump has called solar "wonderful" but that "it’s not strong enough, and it’s very very expensive."
The Energy Department noted that solar generation has increased by 110 percent in three years and the department has awarded $741 million to solar energy projects under President Trump.