750-MW Desert Solar Project Begins Review

The first stage in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s move to initiate environmental review of the McCoy Solar Energy Project, a 750-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant planned for the California desert, is drawing to a close. Interested parties have until next Wednesday – September 28 – to  offer comments on “planning issues, concerns, potential impacts, alternatives, and mitigation measures that should be considered” as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Riverside County, where the plant would be located, prepare environmental impact reports.

The McCoy project would be built on 7,700 acres of public lands and 470 acres of private land 13 miles northwest of Blythe. Plans also include a 16-mile transmission line to connect the project to Southern California Edison’s Colorado River Substation. Construction of the plant would require an amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan, according to the BLM.

McCoy solar project, California, NextEra

image via Shutterstock

McCoy Solar Energy Project is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, the developer also responsible for the 250-MW Genesis project, also located near Blythe. According to Solar Server, NextEra claims to the be the largest developer of solar energy in the United States, with a PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) portfolio of 315 megawatts (MW), 153 MW of which is owned by the company. However, solar power makes up only 1 percent  of the company’s entire generation portfolio.

NextEra anticipates that the McCoy project will generate enough electricity to power 225,000 homes. The project is also expected to employ an estimated 600 workers during peak construction, and 13-20 workers during operations. Those interested in commenting on the project can find more information on the BLM website.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).