Company announces construction on hybrid power plant in Churchill County

Enel Green Power North America says it has started construction on a first-of-its-kind hybrid power plant at its Stillwater geothermal complex in Churchill County.

The 24-megawatt plant will combine geothermal and solar power for maximum generation on hot summer days, said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in an announcement this morning at Aria.

Chu said power developers are building other hybrids nationwide, including plants combining wind and solar, but Enel's project would be the first geothermal-solar hybrid. Once it's complete in about a year, it would also be one of the 10 biggest solar plants in the nation.

Bombard Renewable Energy will build the plant. It will employ about 150 at peak construction.

Local power utility NV Energy has a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy electricity from the plant.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also attended Enel's press conference. Reid wouldn't disclose the federal funding the project has received, but he said the government would eventually cut renewable subsidies.

He added that the nation imports 70 percent of its oil.

"That's the reason we have to move to renewables," Reid said. "We are going to phase down government subsidies, but we should understand why we're doing this."

Enel made its announcement this morning at the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0, being held today at Aria. Along with Reid and Chu, Vice President Joe Biden is in town for the event.