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California Approves Thermal Solar Plant

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avatar California Approves Thermal Solar Plant
August 25, 2010 03:30PM
California regulators on Wednesday approved a license for the nation’s first large-scale solar thermal power plant in two decades. The licensing of the 250-megawatt Beacon Solar Energy Project after a two-and-a-half-year environmental review comes as several other big solar farms are set to receive approval from the California Energy Commission in the next month.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar Millennium Blythe Solar Power Project (BSPP) in eastern Riverside County, Calif.

Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar Millennium has requested a right-of-way (ROW) authorization to construct and operate the BSPP on 7,025 acres of BLM-administered land in eastern Riverside County, 8 miles west of the city of Blythe and 3 miles north of Interstate 10,. The proposed project would consist of four parabolic trough solar-thermal power plants with a total expected capacity of 968 megawatts.

Parabolic trough technology utilizes rows of parabolic mirrors that focus solar energy on collector tubes. The tubes carry heated oil to a boiler, which sends live steam to a turbine. The steam is then fed to a traditional steam turbine generator, which produces electricity.

A new double-circuit 230 KV generation-tie transmission line would be constructed to connect the BSPP to the Devers – Palo Verde #2 500 kV line at the Colorado River substation. Approximately 6.5 miles of this new line would be outside the project area but is included in the analysis. The new line would occupy approximately 183 acres of public lands, and proposes to utilize a ROW measuring 225 feet in width.

The agency preferred alternative is the proposed action, which would include an amendment to the California Desert Plan for the BSPP.

The FEIS is available online at http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/palmsprings.html and by contacting the BLM Palm Springs South Coast Field Office at (760) 833-7100.

A Notice of Availability was published in the Federal Register on Aug. 20, 2010 and initiates a 30-day protest period for the proposed amendment to the California Desert Plan, a necessary step before the project can be approved. Details on filing a protest can be found in the Federal Register Notice or in the FEIS.

In addition to the protest period, the BLM will also be accepting public comments on the Final EIS for 30 days. Comments can be sent by email to CAPSSolarBlythe@blm.gov, by fax (760) 833-7199, or in writing to Allison Shaffer, Project Manager, Palm Springs South Coast Field Office, Bureau of Land Management, 1201 Bird Center Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262.

Further details can be found at the BLM renewable energy web page: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/prog/energy/fasttrack.html, and http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/prog/energy/fasttrack/blythe.html
For more information contact: Holly L. Roberts, Palm Springs-South Coast Associate Field Manager, or Allison Shaffer, Project Manager at (760) 833-7100.
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