This post was written by Phillip H. Babich
The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) has approved three major renewable energy projects. Two have been sited in California, and another is sited in Nevada. The two California projects are solar energy facilities. The McCoy Solar Energy Project is a 750-megawatt photovoltaic solar facility that would be one of the largest solar projects in the world. A 12.5-mile generation transmission line would connect the project to Southern California Edison’s Colorado River Substation. The Desert Harvest Solar Farm is a 150-megawatt photovoltaic facility. The project also includes an on-site substation and 230-kilovolt line to the Red Bluff Substation, which will connect the project to the Southern California Edison regional transmission grid. Both projects will be located in California’s Riverside East Solar Energy Zone (SEZ), one of 18 such zones on land held by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a division of the DOI. The Nevada-based project is the Searchlight Wind Energy Project, a 200-megawatt project that will be located on BLM land about 60 miles southeast of Las Vegas.
The two California solar projects, approved on March 13, 2013, add to the DOI’s progress in furthering the Obama Administration’s goals on solar energy which were articulated in the Department’s Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Solar PEIS).
In January, the BLM approved a new SEZ in Arizona. Known as the Agua Caliente SEZ, this area opens up 2,550 more acres of BLM land to be used for utility-scale solar energy development under the Solar PEIS, which was approved and adopted as amended by a Record of Decision (ROD) on October 12, 2012.
The Agua Caliente SEZ is located approximately 120 miles south east of Phoenix and is part of the Yuma Resources Management Plan (RMP). The BLM chose this location for its proximity to transmission lines or systems, roads and infrastructure. The SEZ also has known environmental or cultural constraints that have been deemed acceptable for purposes of solar development.Continue Reading...