Federal regulators may be close to granting final approval for areally, really big solar power project in California. We’re talking1,000 megawatts (MW), here — enough generating capacity to power about800,000 homes.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on August 20 issued a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Blythe Solar Power Project, a proposed utility-scale solar installation that, if constructed, would be the largest solar energy plant in the world. In line with standardprocedure, the EIS is open for public comment through September 18. TheCalifornia Energy Commission has already recommended the plans be approved.
Given the size of the proposed plant (its footprint would be about6,000 acres) the Blythe project has “drawn relatively littleenvironmental controversy,” according to the New York Times. The article suggests this may have to do with the fact that the areaaround Blythe has, in some ways, already been developed — mainly foragriculture. The same cannot be said of other regions, like the MojaveDesert, where plans for a solar energy installation were scaled back in February due to environmental impact concerns. More details, of course, are available in the EIS, which is available on the BLM’s website.
If all goes according to plan for the Blythe project, four phases ofconstruction will be completed over the course of six years at totalcost of about $6 billion. The project, the solar industry hopes, willdemonstrate the viability of large-scale solar as a means to deliveremissions-free, competitively priced electricity.