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Mr. Desmond also pointed to the 2,100 construction workers currently on site, and to how it eventually will generate $650 million in wages and $300 million in state and local taxes over its 30-year life. It also will provide $400 million in interest payments to American taxpayers, he said.

Bechtel, the construction company involved in the Ivanpah project, also defended itself. Spokeswoman Michelle Michael said the company frequently talks about the importance of the loan program and the need to move “solid projects” forward in a “timely” manner.

But some critics aren’t buying the explanations of BrightSource and its partners. BrightSource, which would have been on shaky financial footing had the California project not gone forward, may have benefitted from years of political pressure, said Benjamin Cole, spokesman for the Institute for Energy Research, which conducts research and analysis of the government’s regulation of global energy markets.

“The American people deserve to know whether Vice President Biden, his staff or other White House political personnel were involved in the decision to provide hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to companies the administration already knew to be in trouble,” he said. “Congress has yet to fully explore” the issue.