US approves reduced size Soda Mountain solar project

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email
The project has been subject to a three year environmental analysis by the BLM. Credit: Bechtel

US power engineering firm Bechtel’s major Soda Mountain solar project has been approved by the US Department of Interior (DOI), but only after a 71MW capacity reduction, following an extensive three-year environmental analysis.

The revised project has been designed for construction on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a DOI agency, about six miles southwest of Baker, California. The new design removes an array of solar panels originally proposed for north of the Interstate Highway 15, which has raised concerns over preservation of scenic vistas, groundwater and wildlife such as bighorn sheep.

The project’s initially proposed capacity will be compacted from 358MW to 287MW, and the original land area shrunk from 899 hectares to 715 hectares. It will be located on disturbed lands that include the interstate highway and an active utility corridor for oil and gas pipelines, electricity transmission and communications infrastructure.

Assistant secretary for land and minerals management Janice Schneider, said: “Today’s approval is the result of a comprehensive, multi-year environmental review and extensive consultation process, including scientific analysis and meaningful mitigation measures to reduce potential impacts to resources.”

BLM Director Neil Kornze said: “The project is consistent with the BLM’s landscape approach for the California desert, which supports careful development of renewable energy where it makes sense while protecting the resources and places that make the desert special.”

In June 2015, Bechtel dismissed concerns that the project would be setback without the city of Los Angeles purchasing electricity from it, after Los Angeles officials announced that the city would not be an off-taker for the solar facility.

At the time, Bechtel’s Soda Mountain proposals had received strong environmental opposition from the public and partner organisations including the National Parks Conservation Association and the Sierra Club among others.

Shortly beforehand, BLM also released its final impact assessment, which recommended approving the project, but with the preferred alternative that reduced the size of the facility.

Read Next

May 25, 2022
A round-up of the latest news from the US solar market, including developments from Pivot Energy, Duke Energy and Engie NA.
May 10, 2022
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has admitted defeat regarding its contentious proposed changes to the state’s net metering laws and has asked for feedback on how a better designed system could work as it seeks to reboot the process.
April 25, 2022
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has adopted a new plan that will serve as a roadmap for shaping the future of distributed energy resources, including rooftop solar and energy storage, in California.
March 21, 2022
California’s grid operator has green-lighted a new plan to upgrade and expand the state’s transmission system as more renewables come online amid increased electrification.
March 18, 2022
Subsidies could still be an important driving force of solar adoption among low- and moderate-income (LMI) households in the US given the relatively high up-front cost of installing PV systems, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
March 8, 2022
US utility-scale solar deployment is set to reach a record 22GW this year, with the technology accounting for almost half of the new generating capacity due to be added to the power grid from 2022 to 2023.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
June 7, 2022
Leonardo Royal London City, London, UK
Solar Media Events
June 14, 2022
Napa, USA
Solar Media Events
June 22, 2022
Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, Austin, Texas