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San Emidio

New San Emidio Power Plant - Close Up New San Emidio Power Plant - Close Up
New San Emidio Power Plant New San Emidio Power Plant
New San Emidio Power Plant New San Emidio Power Plant

In Depth

The new Phase I power plant at San Emidio achieved commercial operation on May 25, 2012. During the quarter ended June 30, 2013, the plant achieved 91.5% availability and generated an average of 9.0 net megawatts per hour. A planned, spring outage was taken in April for 6.3 days. Power production totaled 18,039 megawatt-hours for the quarter.

On November 9, 2011, the Company’s wholly owned subsidiary, USG Nevada LLC, entered into a bridge loan agreement with Ares Capital Corporation. The bridge loan monetized the Section 1603 ITC cash grant associated with the new Phase I power plant at San Emidio. The loan agreement provided for borrowing of up to 90% of the total expected cash grant and consisted only of a single funding of $7.5 million. The funds were drawn from a loan facility that included commercial terms for the payment of interest and associated fees. An application for an $11.65 million ITC cash grant was submitted to the United States Department of the Treasury on July 17, 2012, and on November 14, 2012 the Treasury issued $10.65 million of the requested ITC cash grant amount. $7.78 million was paid to Ares Capital to satisfy the bridge loan facility, with the remaining $2.87 million paid to USG Nevada LLC. In March 2013, the remaining cash grant balance of $1.05 million, for items included in the original submission, was received from the Treasury.

The Phase I repower began construction in the third calendar quarter of 2010 and was delayed in the startup due to EPC contractor’s delay in completing Unit I and certain technical issues related to the new plant. The Phase II expansion is delayed due to the extended time it has taken to get Phase I online, and we are not able to accurately determine when Phase II will be completed at this time. Due to the EPC contractor’s delay in completing the Unit I repower plant and the impact the delay has on future Phases, the Company expects to utilize the ITC cash grant in lieu of the Production Tax Credit only in connection with the Phase I repower. The Phase II expansion is still dependent on successful development of additional production well capacity.

The total capital cost of the Phase I repower was $29.5 million, with Phase II estimated at approximately $55 million and Phase III approximately $100 million. We expect that approximately 75% of the Phase II and Phase III development may be funded by project loans, with the remainder funded through equity financing.

The Company entered into agreements with Science Applications International Corporation (“SAIC”) for a project loan and an engineering procurement and construction contract for the San Emidio Phase I power plant. SAIC’s design-build subsidiary, SAIC Energy, Environment & Infrastructure LLC, constructed the 9.0 net megawatt power plant. TAS Energy of Houston, Texas supplied a modular power plant to the project. Phase I achieved mechanical completion in December 2011, and following performance testing of the power plant, which began in early May 2012, achieved commercial operation on May 25, 2012. Commissioning was extended due to a series of mechanical issues related to the use of an innovative configuration of proven technology that include defective capacitors, the mechanical failure of the 2,500 horsepower process pump, excessive vibration in the turbine gear box, and failure of the silencer. The SAIC provided its services under a fixed price contract that included financial guarantees for the original completion date and power output of the plant. Discussions with the SAIC are complete and Substantial Completion under the SAIC contract was achieved February 21, 2013.

A final settlement agreement was executed as part of Substantial Completion and included a fixed total construction loan payable to the EPC Contractor of $29.5 million. Prior to Substantial Completion, the Company had paid down the loan balance by $1.0 million in three monthly payments. Upon Substantial Completion, a payment of $1.35 million was made to SAIC, and the construction loan was extended until November 15, 2013 with a balance of $25.0 million carrying an interest rate of 10%. Monthly payments of $300,000 are made under this loan until it is repaid.

Additionally, a $2.0 million, 5 year term, unsecured loan was put in place for the balance of the construction loan. This loan bears interest at 7% and has a payment obligation of $119,382 per quarter. A long term, permanent loan is currently under negotiation with a lender, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013. The Company expects to use the long term loan to repay the SAIC construction loan.

The Phase I plant completed its capacity testing during the first quarter, and as a result of the capacity test exceeding the design output, the plant was up rated to 9.0 net annual average megawatts per hour from the design point basis of 8.6 megawatts. Final Completion of the Phase I under the terms of the EPC plant was executed on June 24, 2013.

On June 1, 2011, an amended and restated PPA was signed with Sierra Pacific Power Company d/b/a NV Energy for the sale of up to 19.9 megawatts of electricity on an annual average basis. The PPA has a 25 year term with a base price of $89.75 per megawatt-hour, and a 1% annual escalation rate. The electrical output from both Phase I and Phase II will be sold under the terms of the amended and restated PPA. The PPA was approved by the Public Utility Commission of Nevada on December 27, 2011. A Small Generator Interconnection Agreement for 16 megawatts of transmission capacity was executed with Sierra Pacific Power Company on December 28, 2010.

On October 30, 2009, the Company was awarded $3.77 million in Recovery Act funding for the exploration and development of its San Emidio geothermal power project using advanced geophysical exploration techniques. This award was categorized under the “Innovative Exploration and Drilling Projects” section of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project at San Emidio has applied innovative, seismic and satellite imagery techniques along with state-of-the-art structural modeling, to locate large aperture fractures that represent high-productivity geothermal drilling targets. Two zones along the 4.5 mile long San Emidio fault structure were identified as high quality targets for drilling during the first phase of the DOE program, a South Zone and a North Zone. The first phase was completed in 2011.

The second stage of the DOE program is a 50-50 cost shared drilling plan that followed up on the South Zone targets identified in the first stage. In order to meet construction targets for Phase II plant construction, the drilling stage of the program commenced prior to DOE approval, and two observation wells were completed by the Company. The proposed drilling program was approved by the DOE in early November 2011. One of the first two wells was deepened and three additional wells have been completed in the South Zone under the 50-50 cost share grant.

The North Resource Area, planned for our Phase II expansion, has an additional five observation/temperature gradient wells and one production well planned as part of the cost share drilling program. Drilling in the North Resource Area is scheduled to start during the 3rd quarter of 2013.

Progress Report

  • Original San Emidio Plant
  • Site for New Construction
  • New Plant Construction
  • Cooling Towner Construction
  • Condensor Placement on New Plant
  • New San Emidio Power Plant - Close Up
  • New San Emidio Power Plant
  • New San Emidio Power Plant