US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has approved two utility-scale solar projects in California — the 750MW McCoy Solar Energy Project and the 150MW Desert Harvest Solar Farm.
Both projects are located in California’s Riverside East Solar Energy Zone, an area identified as “most suitable for solar development” and established through the Western Solar Energy Plan.
“These renewable energy projects reflect the Obama Administration's commitment to expand domestic energy production on our public lands and diversify our nation's energy portfolio,” Salazar said. “In just over four years, we have advanced 37 wind, solar and geothermal projects on our public lands – or enough to power more than 3.8 million American homes. These projects are bolstering rural economies by generating good jobs and reliable power and strengthening our national energy security.”
The McCoy Solar Energy Project will represent one of the largest PV projects on public lands in the Californian desert and will be developed, owned and operated by McCoy Solar, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, on 1,780 hectares of land, the majority of which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Riverside County.
The US$100 million project will be built in two phases. As part of the array, a 14.5 mile generation tie-in line and 0.8 hectares switch yard connecting with Southern California Edison’s Colorado River Substation will be built. During peak construction, McCoy Solar believes that the project will hire 600 workers and up to 20 workers during operations.
Output from the proposed project is estimated to be enough to power around 200,000 Californian households. Electricity generated from the first 250MW of the facility will be sold to Southern California Edison under a power purchase agreement with McCoy Solar.
The Desert Harvest Solar Farm, which been proposed by EDF Renewable Energy, will be constructed on a 489-hectare site. The facility will be equipped with single-axis tracking technology, an on-site substation and a 230-kilovolt line to the Red Bluff Substation, which will connect the project to the Southern California Edison regional transmission grid.
During the peak construction period, the project is expected to create 250 jobs. When operational, the facility would generate enough electricity to power an estimated 45,000 homes in southern California.
The approved projects underwent extensive environmental review and public comment. The companies agreed to undertake significant mitigation efforts to minimise the impact to wildlife, water, historical, cultural and other resources.