BLM makes progress on Silver State Solar South project in Nevada

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is making available a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Proposed Resource Management Plan (RMP) Amendment for the up to 350-MW Silver State Solar South Project located on public lands east of Primm, Nev.

BLM will publish an availability notice for these documents in the Sept. 20 Federal Register, and parties will have 30 days from there to protest them, if they so choose.

Silver State Solar Power South LLC, a subsidiary of First Solar, has submitted a right-of-way (ROW) application for the construction, operation, maintenance, and termination of a 250 MW-350 MW solar energy generation facility within a 13,184-acre area of public land east of Primm. This application expands on a prior ROW application.

The proposed solar energy project would consist of photovoltaic (PV) panels and related infrastructure ROW appurtenances, including a substation and switchyard facilities, and would produce about 250 MW under the BLM’s Preferred Alternative.

The solar field and infrastructure would consist of single-axis tracker systems or fixed panels, an underground and overhead electrical power collection system, two step-up transformers, 230 kV and 220 kV transmission lines, an operation and maintenance area, a switchyard, paved access and maintenance roads, flood and drainage controls, and a fire break.

If approved, the Silver State Solar South Project would have a footprint of between 2,427 acres and 3,881 acres, depending on the EIS alternative chosen and the final site configuration.

The Final Supplemental EIS analyzes five alternatives, including a no action alternative (Alternative A) and four action alternatives. Alternative B is Silver State’s original proposal (as described in its Plan of Development dated July 2011). This alternative was introduced in initial scoping meetings and does not include perimeter roads. Alternative B would disturb up to 3,881 acres of federal land. Alternative C would disturb up to 2,546 acres of federal lands, and is the project layout for Phases II and III that were previously evaluated in the 2010 Final EIS. Alternative D would disturb up to 3,110 acres of federal land and is a modified layout of Silver State’s original proposal (Alternative B above) that would allow access through a historically-used recreation route, avoid impacts to interstate drainages, and reduce impacts to desert tortoise and other special status species.

The BLM’s Preferred Alternative is a modification of Alternative D and was developed after release of the Draft Supplemental EIS/Proposed RMP Amendment to address public and agency concerns related to desert tortoise demographic connectivity within the Ivanpah Valley and agency and public interest in a reduced-scale project. The BLM Preferred Alternative is smaller in area than other analyzed project alternatives and reduces electricity generation capacity to 250 MW. The BLM Preferred Alternative would disturb up to 2,427 acres of federal land entirely within the footprint of alternatives analyzed in the Draft Supplemental EIS/Proposed RMP Amendment, and thus involves no new areas of effect.

First Solar completed the nearby, 50-MW Silver State Solar North project in 2012.

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.