Environmental statement for solar facility released

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Western Area Power Administration (Western) today released the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Quartzsite Solar Energy Project.

Quartzsite Solar Energy, LLC, a subsidiary of SolarReserve, LLC, is the proponent for the project. It plans to use solar tower technology to produce up to 100 megawatts of solar-powered electricity in La Paz County, Arizona. The project is proposed on 1,675 acres of BLM-administered land 10 miles north of Quartzsite and adjacent to Arizona State Route 95.

The company plans to construct a 653-foot tower surrounded by an array of mirrors. The mirrors would focus the sun’s rays on a point at the top of the tower. The concentrated heat would be used to create steam, which would be used to power traditional steam turbine generators.

Western, a Department of Energy agency, took the lead in preparing the EIS. The project would require tie-in to Western’s power transmission lines.

Major projects that involve Federal land or resources are required by Federal law to be evaluated in an EIS. The EIS, which has been in development for more than two years, evaluates the effects of the proposed project on all resources, including wildlife, groundwater, cultural, and vegetation. The issues were considered, avoided, minimized or mitigated appropriately.

In addition to evaluating whether to allow use of the land, the BLM is evaluating a proposal to amend the Yuma Resource Management Plan, which was adopted in January 2010. The amendment would change the visual resource management class for the proposed site to a category that would allow construction of a tower.

The EIS identifies BLM’s preferred alternative, which generally coincides with Quartzsite Solar Energy’s proposal.

Information on the project and a link to the draft EIS is available on the BLM Arizona web site at www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/energy/solar/quartzsite_solar_energy.html.