Draft environmental report released on 200-MW Moapa Solar project

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is releasing the draft environmental impact statement on the 200-MW RES Americas Moapa Solar Energy Center project, to be located in Clark County, Nev.

BIA said in a notice to be published in the Sept. 5 Federal Register that it is the lead federal agency, with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians as cooperating agencies. In order to be fully considered, written comments on the DEIS must arrive no later than 45 days after EPA publishes this Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.

The proposed project is a 200-MW solar generation facility, water line, and associated infrastructure on the reservation, and a right-of-way (ROW) grant on BLM lands for a 230-kV and/or 500-kV transmission line and associated access roads.

“The primary need for the Proposed Project is to provide land lease income, sustainable renewable resources, new jobs and other benefits for the Tribe by using solar resources on Reservation lands where there is high potential for solar electric generation,” BIA wrote. “A secondary need for the Proposed Project is to assist utilities in meeting their renewable energy goals by providing electricity generated from solar resources from Tribal lands that may be efficiently connected to existing transmission lines in a manner that minimizes adverse site impacts.”

The BIA and BLM will use the final EIS, after it is completed, to make decisions on the land lease and ROW applications under their respective jurisdiction. The EPA and NPS may use the document to make decisions under their authorities. The Tribe may use the EIS to make decisions under its Tribal Environmental Policy Ordinance. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may use the EIS to support its decision under the Endangered Species Act.

The project would be located in Mount Diablo Meridian, Township 16 South, Range 64 East, Sections 30 and 31, Clark County, Nev. For the purposes of the draft EIS, the “Analysis Area” will include an approximately 1,000-acre solar site and water pipeline entirely located on the reservation.

The project may include two solar technologies.

  • One would be a photovoltaic (PV) solar project capable of producing up to 200 MW. The PV project would include up to 175,000 PV panels on single-axis tracking systems, inverters, and an operation and maintenance building. Construction of the PV solar component is expected to take up to 12 months and is projected to have a life of 25 years.
  • The second, alternative technology would be a concentrating solar power (CSP) project utilizing either eSolar’s CSP plant technology or AREVA Solar’s CSP technology. The eSolar technology consists of multiple 250-foot tall tower/receiver combinations situated between fields of heliostat mirrors. The focused solar heat boils water within the thermal receiver and produces steam that is aggregated and sent to a steam turbine to generate electricity. AREVA Solar’s Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector uses modular flat reflectors to focus the sun’s heat onto elevated receivers which consist of a system of tubes through which water flows. The concentrated sunlight boils the water in the tubes generating high-pressure superheated steam for direct use in power generation without the need for heat exchangers. The CSP project would take 24 months to construct and would be expected to operate for 25 to 30 years.

An overhead 230-kV transmission line would connect the solar energy center to the nearby Harry Allen 230 kV Substation about six miles from the site. An additional 500 kV interconnection line could be constructed and connected to the Crystal Substation located about one mile east of project boundary.

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.