Blythe Solar Power Project Wins Federal Approval


Environmental Science Associates (ESA), a leading California environmental consulting firm, successfully assisted the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) with interagency coordination and preparation of the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the largest solar energy project on U.S. public lands. The Blythe Solar Power Project will consist of four 250 MW plants that together will total 1,000 megawatts (MW) of nominal generating capacity, and generate enough electricity to annually power more than 300,000 single-family homes. The project was proposed by Palo Verde Solar I, LLC, a subsidiary of Oakland, California’s Solar Millennium, LLC. The project was licensed by the California Energy Commission on September 15, 2010 and approved by the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, on October 25, 2010.

The four-unit project will cover 7,025 acres of public lands eight miles west of Blythe in Riverside County, California. It is expected to create approximately 1,000 direct jobs during the construction period of the entire project, and more than 220 permanent jobs when the 1,000 MW facility is fully operational. The project underwent extensive environmental review, starting with public scoping in November 2009, followed by a draft EIS in March 2010 and the final EIS on August 20, 2010. The BLM is requiring that Solar Millennium fund more than 7,000 acres of desert tortoise, western burrowing owl, bighorn sheep and Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat to mitigate the project’s impacts.

“The Blythe Solar Project was one of the first projects under the federal and state partnerships set up to advance the development of environmentally appropriate renewable energy on U.S. public lands in California,” said Doug Cover, ESA Energy Practice Leader. “Our ability to focus ESA’s expertise and technical resources to complete the necessary environmental documentation was critical to meeting federal and state fast-track deadlines and ensuring timely project approvals.”

ESA has managed the environmental process for more than 20 renewable energy projects throughout the West. As a valued partner to the BLM and other public agencies, the firm is able to meet fast-track demands with seasoned staff who understand the market, technology and processes for licensing, permitting, and environmental compliance.

Press Release: Blythe Solar Power Project Wins Federal Approval