Interior approves transmission line for 250 MW solar energy in California

U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) approved a transmission line on public lands that will connect the 250 MW Imperial Solar Energy Center West plant to the electricity grid in Southern California.

The 230 kV transmission line will be located above-ground and will carry electricity five miles to the existing Imperial Valley Substation. The solar power project will be located on 26 hectares of public land.

“Through smart siting of projects, early environmental review and a coordinated approval process, Interior is helping to stand up a renewable energy economy, spurring innovation, job-creation, and investment in the private sector,” stated Interior Secretary Salazar.

“When constructed, this solar project will add to a growing, sustainable energy strategy that will power our local communities and economies.” Environmental review completed on July 28th, 2011

The solar power project has been proposed by Tenaska Inc. (Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.) subsidiary CSOLAR Development LLC, which is also developing the Imperial Solar Energy Center West.

The transmission project underwent an environmental review process, with an Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment issued on July 28th, 2011.

The DOI states that its Bureau of Land Management (BLM) worked closely with Native American communities and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to avoid, minimize and compensate for potential adverse affects of the project.

Mitigation measures included requiring the CSOLAR to purchase more than 40 hectares of wildlife habitat to compensate for impacts.

The DOI notes that the Imperial Solar Energy Center West will be built on privately owned agricultural land near El Centro, California. However, as the plant requires a right-of-way through BLM land, the environmental review process covered the entire project. The plant will use either solar photovoltaic (PV) or concentrating solar power photovoltaic (CPV) technology.