US: 250 MW Genesis solar project receives approval

Ken Salazar approved the parabolic trough project yesterday, which is expected to produce enough clean energy to power between 75,000 and 187,500 homes, in addition to generating 1,085 jobs at peak construction and 50 permanent positions.

The project – located approximately 25 miles west of the city of Blythe in California – will deliver power via a generator that will tie into the Blythe Energy 230-kilovolt line, with interconnection to the Devers-Palo Verde #2 500 kilovolt line at the Colorado River substation.

??It has reportedly undergone extensive environmental review, starting with public scoping last November, followed by a draft environment impact statement (EIS) with full public involvement this March and a final EIS on August 27.

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s payments in lieu of tax credits for specified energy program, Genesis Solar can apply for payments of up to 30 percent of the eligible costs of the project, which amount to around USD$300 million.

Furthermore, it has been said that Genesis Solar is providing funding for more than 2,000 acres of desert tortoise and Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat to mitigate the project’s impacts. Genesis added that it will also employ a dry cooling plan, instead of a wet-cooling alternative, to reduce the project’s projected water use from 1,400 acre-feet per year to 200 acre-feet a year.?? ?

??“The Genesis Solar Project will help stimulate the economy and create more than a thousand new jobs in California,” Secretary Salazar said in signing the Record of Decision.

“This is the seventh renewable energy project approved through the fast-track process in less than four weeks – a giant leap forward in meeting the President’s goals for developing domestic energy resources, reducing carbon emissions, promoting energy independence, and enhancing our national security.”

Thanksgiving

President of SEIA, Rhone Resch also commended the move. In a statement, he said: ?"The overwhelming majority of Americans that support development of solar energy can celebrate Thanksgiving early this year. Approving the first seven utility-scale solar projects on public lands is a major milestone for the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. solar industry.

"To put this in perspective, over the previous 20 years, 74,000 permits were issued for oil and gas drilling on public lands, but none for solar energy development.

"These seven projects are a great first step for tapping into America’s world-class solar resources and growing our clean energy economy. The fast-track process provides an excellent template for efficiently permitting future utility-scale solar power plants on public lands. We look forward to continuing our work with Secretary Salazar to maintain this momentum and to keep solar working for America."

?In October, Salazar approved six other large-scale solar energy projects that combined would produce 2,837 megawatts of electricity, which is said to be enough to power 851,000 to 2.1 million homes, as well as create 3,700 new construction jobs and more than 600 permanent plant operations jobs.