(Imperial County) – The Interior Department yesterday announced approval of a transmission line across federal land that will connect a 139-megawatt solar farm in Southern California to the power grid.
First Solar Inc.’s Campo Verde solar project will be built on private agricultural lands about 5 miles north of the Mexican border.
The thin-film photovoltaic plant is expected to power nearly 42,000 homes, support more than 250 construction jobs and generate $17.5 million in local tax revenue over its lifetime, Interior said. First Solar said the plant will use no water.
Yesterday’s approval by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar allows up to 1 mile of transmission line to connect the project to San Diego Gas and Electric’s Imperial Valley substation. The utility has agreed to purchase the power for the next 20 years.
The agency’s environmental assessment said that there are multiple solar projects proposed in the area and that the 230-kilovolt transmission line will contain additional capacity to connect them.
The “gen-tie” line will be located entirely within the Bureau of Land Management’s Yuha Basin Area of Critical Environmental Concern but follows a designated utility corridor, the agency said. In addition, the developer said it will provide habitat for the flat-tailed horned lizard and burrowing owl to offset the 17-acre right of way.
“As good stewards of the public lands, we are seeking to support renewable energy development, including development on private lands that have the potential for success with few resource conflicts,” said BLM’s acting director, Mike Pool, in a statement.
The transmission line is the 32nd major onshore renewable energy project involving federal lands that, when built, will generate about 7,400 MW of power, Interior said.
California law requires utilities to get 33 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. (GreenWire, 9-27-2012)