BLM readies final EIS on 20-MW California solar project

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a Proposed California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) Plan Amendment and Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) Ocotillo Sol Solar Project in Imperial County, Calif.

The BLM has received a right-of-way (ROW) application from SDG&E to construct, operate, maintain, and decommission the Ocotillo Sol Solar Project, a solar photovoltaic (PV) power facility, located on about 115 acres of BLM-administered public lands in Imperial County, BLM said in a notice to be published in the July 26 Federal Register. The site is adjacent to the existing Imperial Valley Substation (IVS), about 82 miles east of San Diego.

All proposed project components, including a temporary 15-acre construction laydown area, would be located on BLM-administered lands. The proposed Ocotillo Sol project components would include the PV modules and mounting structures, a maintenance building with an associated parking area, internal roads, inverters, transformers, and the combining switchgear.

Once approved and operational, the Ocotillo Sol project is expected to have an average generating capacity of 15 MW to 18 MW, depending on the specific technology chosen, with a peak output of up to 20 MW.

In connection with its decision on the proposed Ocotillo Sol project, the BLM will also include potential amendments to the CDCA Plan, as analyzed in the Final EIS. The CDCA Plan, while recognizing the potential compatibility of solar energy facilities on public lands, requires that all sites associated with power generation or transmission not identified in the plan be considered through the land use plan amendment process. The BLM is deciding whether to amend the CDCA Plan to identify the Ocotillo Sol project site as suitable or unsuitable for solar energy development.

Two public comment meetings for the Ocotillo Sol Draft EIS/Draft CDCA Plan Amendment were held in El Centro on June 4, 2012. The formal comment period commenced with the publication of the Draft EIS/Draft CDCA Plan Amendment on April 20, 2012 and ended on July 19, 2012. Comments on the Draft EIS/Draft CDCA Plan Amendment received from the public and internal BLM review were considered and incorporated as appropriate into the Final EIS/Proposed CDCA Plan Amendment. Public comments resulted in the addition of clarifying text, but did not significantly change the analysis, alternatives, or proposed land use plan decision, BLM noted.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.