Massive solar + storage project receives federal approval to be built on US public lands

Yesterday, the U.S. Interior Department (DOI) announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has given final approval to a new solar energy project on public lands in California. The approval gives developer Sonoran West a green light to go forward with the construction of the Crimson Solar Project, a 350-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic facility with a 350-MW energy storage system, and the necessary ancillary support facilities to generate and deliver power through the Southern California Edison Colorado River Substation.

The Crimson Solar Project represents an investment of roughly $550 million and will provide an estimated 650 temporary construction jobs, 10 permanent jobs and 40 temporary jobs in operations and maintenance over the 30-year life of the project, said DOI.

Sonoran West Solar Holdings, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Recurrent Energy, LLC will own the project, which will occupy up to approximately 2,000 acres of BLM-administered lands approximately 13 miles west of Blythe, in Riverside County, California. (see map)

Although the project application pre-dates the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), the Crimson Solar Project is located within one of the areas designated for development, known as Development Focus Areas, by the DRECP. Through the DRECP process, the BLM, State of California and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked with renewable energy developers, the conservation community, Tribes, local government, and others over several years to identify areas appropriate for renewable energy development and areas that should be conserved.

“The time for a clean energy future is now. We must make bold investments that will tackle climate change and create good-paying American jobs,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Projects like this can help to make America a global leader in the clean energy economy through the acceleration of responsible renewable energy development on public lands.”

“America’s public lands provide a tremendous opportunity to realize the potential of renewable energy. BLM is committed to engaging in an inclusive and equitable process in pursuit of a clean energy economy,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Laura Daniel-Davis.

“The BLM California is proud to support responsible development of renewable energy projects as part of our mission to sustainably manage public lands,” said State Director of the BLM California Karen Mouritsen. “The Crimson Solar project showcases the agency’s commitment to meeting California’s energy and economic needs with 21st Century technology.”