Developer works on ‘take’ permit for up-to-200-MW California solar project

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will announce in the Jan. 13 Federal Register that it has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act in response to an application from Wright Solar Park LLC for an incidental take permit (ITP) under the Endangered Species Act.

The application addresses the proposed incidental take of three animal species proposed as “covered species” within a 5,181-acre permit area during a proposed permit term of 40 years. The applicant has also prepared the draft Wright Solar Park Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to describe and implement a conservation plan that will minimize and mitigate environmental effects associated with the construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of an up-to-200-MW photovoltaic power generating facility and implementation of conservation actions associated with the Habitat Conservation Plan in Merced County, California.

Construction-related activities could include grading and compaction, trenching, paving of access roads, installation of solar arrays, meteorological stations, transmissionlines, septic leech fields, fencing, and landscaping. Construction of solar facilities is anticipated to be completed over a 26-month period from the commencement of the initial development, and is anticipated to be complete by late 2016.

Merced County in December issued a Final Environmental Impact Report for the Wright Solar Park proposal. Said that report: “Wright Solar Park, LLC (applicant) proposes to develop, own, and operate a 200-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant located on leased and purchased agricultural lands in unincorporated Merced County. The project site encompasses all or parts of 13 parcels totaling approximately 2,719 acres. The project would permanently develop approximately 1,392 acres o fthis area, or approximately 50.9% of the total parcel acreage. Total disturbance during construction, including temporary office staging and laydown of components, would be approximately 1,582 acres including both temporary and permanent disturbance.

“Project components would include access roads, solar modules, tracker components, direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) power inverters, medium voltage transformers, a medium voltage collection system (MVCS), a project substation, and an interconnection switching station. In addition, the applicant proposes to construct a battery energy storage system (BESS) at the northern edge of the site to aid in shaping and controlling the timing of energy production for the electrical grid. The project would be interconnected to the existing Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) power grid infrastructure that passes through the site for delivery to the purchaser of the power. The project would have an operational lifespan of approximately 30–35 years.

“To support the PV panels, the project would utilize a fixed-tilt mounting system or a single-axis tracking system designed to optimize power production of the panels by ensuring proper orientation to the sun throughout the day and seasons. The fixed-tilt mounting andsingle-axis tracking systems are supported by metal piers driven into the ground by a pile-driving machine.” 

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.