The California Energy Commission staff has released its analysis of the proposed Blythe Solar Power Project Amendment. The document was published in two parts.
The first part of the staff assessment was published September 23. Commission staff concluded that with the implementation of recommended mitigation measures described in the conditions of certification, the environmental impacts for proposed 485-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic project would be less than significant. Staff also found that the project would comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards (LORS).
The second part of the assessment, which consisted of six technical areas, was released October 11. The analysis determined that the project would have significant cumulative environmental impacts in the areas of biological resources, cultural resources, land use, and visual resources even with the implementation of staff’s recommended mitigation measures. The project would have direct impacts in the area of cultural resources. Unmitigated impacts would require the Commission to adopt override findings if the project is approved.
The assessment serves as the staff’s evaluation of the environmental, engineering, public health and safety impacts of the proposed facility. It is not a decision nor does it contain final findings of the Commission related to the environmental impacts or the project’s compliance with local, state and federal legal requirements. Commission staff plans to hold a workshop to discuss the analysis, mitigation, and conditions of certification identified.
The assessment will serve as Commission staff’s testimony at evidentiary hearings held by a committee of two commissioners who are reviewing the proposed project. The committee will issue a proposed decision based on evidence presented at the hearings. The proposed decision will later be presented to the full Commission for a final decision.
In September 2010, the Commission approved the 1,000-MW Blythe Solar Power Project, a solar thermal power project using parabolic trough technology. The project site is located about eight miles west of Blythe in eastern Riverside County. It would be located on 7,043 acres of federal public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
The project owner, Palo Verdes Solar I, LLC, a subsidiary of Solar Millennium, filed an amendment in June 2012 with the Commission requesting to switch the technology to solar photovoltaic. In April 2013, the new project owner, NextEra Blythe Solar Energy Center, LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, filed a revised amendment with the Commission to reduce the project’s physical size and the generation capacity.
The proposed 485-MW project would be developed on 4,070 acres of BLM land in four phases, with the first three consisting of 125 MW and the fourth generating 110 MW. In addition to approval from the Commission, the amended project will require a revised right-of-way grant from the BLM.
If the amended project is approved, construction would last 48 months. It would average 341 workers during construction, with a peak of 499. Fifteen employees would be needed when the project is operational. The estimated capital cost for construction of the project is $1.13 billion, according to the project owner.
The California Energy Commission is the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state’s appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies. For more information, visit: www.energy.ca.gov or www.energy.ca.gov/releases/.
Source: California Energy Commission
For more information on: California Energy Commission