WASHINGTON, DC–(ENEWSPF)–August 25, 2011. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has approved a transmission line on public lands that will connect a 250-megawatt solar power project to the energy grid in California. The transmission line will connect to the Imperial Solar Energy Center West Project in Imperial County that, when constructed, will generate power for more than 75,000 homes.
Proposed by CSOLAR Development, LLC, the project is expected to create up to 285 jobs during construction and infuse up to $5 million in sales tax revenue to the local government.
“Through smart siting of projects, early environmental review and a coordinated approval process, Interior is helping to stand up a renewable energy economy, spurring innovation, job-creation, and investment in the private sector,” Secretary Salazar said. “When constructed, this solar project will add to a growing, sustainable energy strategy that will power our local communities and economies.”
Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of solar, wind, geothermal and transmission project approvals resulting from Interior’s priority approach to processing existing applications for renewable energy development on public lands in a coordinated, focused manner with full environmental analysis and public review.
“The solar project itself will be constructed on private, fallowed farm lands near El Centro,” said Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey. “This transmission line will be placed in an area already designated as a transmission corridor. The entire project is sited in a perfect spot for renewable energy development in the California desert.”
The above-ground 230 kilovolt transmission line will carry power five miles to the existing Imperial Valley Substation and will be located on 65 acres of Interior-managed lands. Maps of the project are available HERE and HERE.
As part of Interior’s commitment to responsible development of renewable energy, the project received extensive environmental review and mitigation measures, with the Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (EIR/EA) issued on July 28, 2011. Interior’s Bureau of Land Management also worked in close coordination with American Indian communities and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other stakeholders to avoid, minimize and compensate for potential adverse impacts.
For example, the BLM and state agencies are requiring the developer to acquire more than 100 acres of suitable wildlife habitat to compensate for impacts of the project. Installation of temporary fencing around proposed impact areas will prevent impacts to adjacent cultural resources.
Because the development on private land is connected to the federal Right of Way for the transmission line and cannot proceed without Interior approval, the Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment had to consider the impacts of the entire generation and transmission project, including the components located on private lands. The EIR/EA was jointly prepared by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Energy and the County of Imperial, California to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Earlier this month, Salazar approved the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, a 550-megawatt project also in the California desert, and in July, he approved two utility-scale solar developments in the state, a wind energy project in Oregon, and a transmission line in Southern California. Together the four 2011 solar projects will create more than 2,215 construction jobs and provide a combined 1,350 megawatts of electricity.
For a fact sheet on the Imperial Solar Energy Center West Project, click HERE.
The project Record of Decision is available at http://on.doi.gov/qLQ7zT.