Feds issue draft enviro review on 100-MW Aiya Solar project in Nevada

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, as the lead federal agency, with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians as Cooperating Agencies, has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the proposed Aiya Solar Project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Clark County, Nevada.

A notice to be published in the May 15 Federal Register announces that the DEIS is now available for public review and that BIA will hold public meetings to solicit comments on it. The date and locations of the public meetings will be announced at least 15 days in advance through notices in local newspapers. 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 federal action is BIA’s approval of a solar energy ground lease and associated agreements entered into by the Tribe with Aiya Solar Project LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar Inc., to provide for construction and operation of an up-to 100-MW (ac) solar photovoltaic (PV) facility located entirely on the Reservation and specifically on lands held in trust by BIA for the Tribe. The proposed 230-kV generation-tie line would be located on Tribal lands, private lands and federal lands administered and managed by BLM. The applicant has accordingly requested that BIA and BLM additionally approve right-of-ways (ROWs) authorizing the construction and operation of the transmission line.

The project would be located in Township 14 South, Range 66 East, Sections 29, 30, 31, and 32 Mount Diablo Meridian, Nevada. Included in the project would be inverters, a collection system, an on-site substation to step up the voltage to transmission level voltage at 230 kV, an operations and maintenance building, and other related facilities. A single overhead 230 kV generation-tie transmission line, approximately 1.5 to 3 miles long, would connect the solar project to NV Energy’s Reid-Gardner 230-kV substation through a point northeast of the existing Reid-Gardner substation where a new NV Energy collector station would be built.

Construction of the project is expected to take approximately 12 to 15 months. The applicant is expected to operate the energy facility for 30 years, with two options to renew the lease for an additional 10 years, if mutually acceptable to the Tribe and the applicant.

During construction, the PV panels will be placed on top of fixed-tilt and/or single-axis tracking mounting systems that are set on steel posts embedded in the ground. Other foundation design techniques may be used depending on the site topography and conditions. No water will be used to generate electricity during operations. Water will be needed during construction for dust control and a minimal amount will be needed during operations for landscape irrigation and administrative and sanitary water use on site. The water supply required for construction of the project would be leased from the Tribe and would be provided via a new temporary intake installed in the Muddy River and a new temporary above-ground pipeline approximately two miles in length. Operational water would be provided through a tap into an existing water pipeline that crosses the solar site.

The BIA and BLM will use the EIS to make decisions on the land lease and ROW applications under their respective jurisdiction. The EPA may use the document to make decisions under its authorities. The Tribe may use the EIS to make decisions under its Tribal Environmental Policy Ordinance. The USFWS may use the EIS to support its decision under the Endangered Species Act.

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.