U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on November 4, 2010 approved the Genesis Solar Project, a 250 megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power (CSP) facility that will use parabolic trough solar thermal technology to produce enough clean energy to power 75,000 – 187,500 homes and generate 1,085 jobs at peak construction and 50 permanent positions.
The Genesis Solar Project will help to achieve the Administration and Interior initiative to make a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewable energy on public lands.
"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."
The Riverside County installation, backed by a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources, will use parabolic-trough solar thermal technology to make enough energy to power up to 188,000 homes. The company estimates the project will create nearly 1,100 jobs at the height of construction and 50 permanent operating positions once construction wraps up, likely in late 2012 or early 2013.
Proposed by Genesis Solar LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, the facility will be located on nearly 1,950 acres of public land 25 miles west of Blythe, in Riverside County, California. The decision authorized Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to offer Genesis Solar a right-of-way grant to use these public lands for 30 years if all rents and other conditions are met.
In October, Salazar approved six other large-scale solar energy projects that combined would have an electricity generating capacity of 2,837 MW, 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.
Salazar commended California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the people of California for their foresight and extraordinary level of cooperation. "This fast-track renewable projects process clearly demonstrated how separate government processes can be streamlined, without cutting any corners or skipping any environmental checks and balances in the process," Salazar said.
"Less than a year ago, the BLM committed to helping diversify our country’s energy portfolio in an environmentally responsible manner. Today, we are approving our seventh major solar generating project," said BLM Director Bob Abbey. "This clearly demonstrates our ability to site large-scale renewable energy projects appropriately on public lands."
The Genesis project has undergone extensive environmental review, starting with public scoping in November 2009, followed by a draft environment impact statement (EIS) with full public involvement in March 2010 and a final EIS August 27, 2010. 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 also will 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 only 200 acre-feet a year.
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 Genesis Solar Energy Project – about $300 million.
The project’s parabolic trough technology utilizes rows of parabolic mirrors that focus solar energy on collector tubes. The tubes carry heated oil to a boiler, which sends live steam to a traditional steam turbine generator, which produces electricity. The project will deliver power via a generator that will tie-in to the Blythe Energy 230-kilovolt line, with interconnection to the Devers-Palo Verde #2 500 kilovolt line at the Colorado River substation.