NextEra Energy wins approval for 750 MW Californian solar park


California’s solar PV pipeline grew a lot wider this week with the announcement from Riverside County that supervisors have approved plans from NextEra Energy to build a 750 MW, 4,400-acres solar plant near the town of Blythe.

The McCoy Solar Energy Project has been years in the making, with Riverside County supervisors delaying approval last month as the Office of County Counsel vetted last-minute details.

But this week the plans have been approved, permitting NextEra Energy to begin work on constructing the plant during an operation that is expected to create as much as 600 jobs in the local vicinity.

"There’s no reason at all why this project shouldn’t move forward and create some jobs," said district supervisor John Benoit. Opposition came from questions over the impact the site’s construction would have on local communities and the environment.

NextEra Energy stressed that although they would need to use county roads, string transmission lines across county land and eventually install an estimated 516,000 solar panels – with the capacity for many more – disruption to local residents would be minimal.

Part of the agreement between the Florida-based solar developer and county regulators sees NextEra Energy pay $1.21 in development impact fees upfront, with ongoing payments of $150 per acre to ensure the county is suitable compensated for the land used.

The first phase of the project will now go ahead, with NextEra Energy set to install panels on an initial 2,262 acres of land owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management north of Blythe Airport.

According to information gathered by county officials under the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, Riverside County is home to 200,000 of the approximately 300,000 acres of land eyed by the Californian government for solar PV development.