By Phoenix Business Journal

Abengoa Solar Inc. has received one of the last permits it needs to start construction of one of the largest power plants in Arizona, this time from Maricopa County.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to approve the project based on recommendations from its Planning and Development staff.

The approval comes a few days after Abengoa was given a $1.45 billion conditional loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to help with construction.

⿿I am very proud this day came,⿝ said Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox of the power plant to be built in her district. ⿿It takes Arizona to a different level as this will be the first plant of its kind,⿝ her statement read.

The 280-megawatt power plant will be built on about 3,100 acres near Gila Bend. Abengoa, a division of the Spanish solar giant Abengoa S.A., will sell power from the plant to Arizona Public Service Co.

Kate Maracas, vice president of Abengoaâ¿¿s operations in Arizona, said the county approval was one of the last hurdles before it is able to start pulling construction permits. The plant has received approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission, and is in the process of getting an aquifer protection permit through the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

The company must also meet a number of federal criteria to qualify for the loan. That process could be finished by October with ground breaking at the site potentially in November, Maracas said.

Supervisors applauded the project and said they are looking forward to its construction.

⿿Due to the intense sunlight we have in the Southwest, I am optimistic it will be successful and a leader in direct sunlight technology,⿝ said Supervisor Fulton Brock in a statement. ⿿This project will showcase how Maricopa County partners with the private and public sectors in alternative fuels production.⿝

The plant is expected to employ about 1,600 people during its construction and have 85 permanent employees.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010