NRG Energy, through its wholly owned subsidiary NRG Solar, has begun commercial operations of the Ivanpah solar electric generating system in California, the US.

Jointly developed by NRG, Google, and BrightSource Energy, the project generates 392MW of solar power, which is enough to power around 140,000 California homes and curb 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Backed by a $1.6bn loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, the project’s three 450ft high towers achieved commercial operation on December 31, 2013.

Bechtel is the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor and NRG will be the operator of the plant, which includes 173,500 heliostats that follow the sun’s trajectory, solar field integration software and a solar receiver steam generator.

Ivanpah’s units one and three will supply their output to Pacific Gas & Electric under two long-term power purchase agreements, while output from the unit two is being sold to Southern California Edison under a similar contract.

The project has created nearly 3,000 jobs since the start of construction in October 2010. The company is expected to pay around $650m in salaries for construction and operations over the next 30 years.

Bechtel power global business unit president Toby Seay said the commercial operation has achieved as a result of a well-coordinated effort between the Ivanpah project affiliates and Bechtel.

"Consistent teamwork with a focus on safety and quality is key to executing a project of this size and complexity. It was a privilege to be a part of an iconic project that will bring clean, sustainable power to tens of thousands of households for years to come," added Seay.

NRG Solar president Tom Doyle said, "We see Ivanpah changing the energy landscape by proving that utility-scale solar is not only possible, but incredibly beneficial to both the economy and in how we produce and consume energy.

"Whether it’s partnering, developing or investing, NRG will continue to provide a diverse set of solutions and technologies to get the US to the ultimate goal of providing affordable, reliable clean energy for everyone."