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Final Environmental Impact Statement Issued for 200-MW Moapa Solar Project

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) at the U.S. Interior Dept. intends to file a final environmental impact statement for the proposed RES Americas Moapa Solar Energy Center on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Clark County, Nevada.

The bureau said in a notice to be published in the Feb. 14 Federal Register that it is the lead agency on this review process, along with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians. The final Record of Decision on the proposed action will be issued no sooner than 30 days after EPA publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.

The purpose of the proposed project is to construct a 200-MW solar generation facility, water line, and associated infrastructure on reservation land, and obtain grants of right-of-way (ROW) on BLM lands for 230-kV and 500-kV transmission lines and associated access roads.

The proposed federal action consists of:

  • BIA approval of a solar energy ground lease and agreements entered into by the tribe with project applicant Moapa Solar LLC;
  • BIA approval of ROWs and easements for the applicant to construct, operate, and maintain an up to 200 MW solar photovoltaic electricity generating facility and water pipeline on the reservation;
  • BLM approval of ROWs for the 230 kV and 500 kV transmission lines and access roads on BLM-administered federal lands; and
  • BLM approval of ROWs for the portions of the 500 kV transmission line and water pipeline located within an existing utility corridor located on the reservation.

BIA and BLM will use the final EIS to make decisions on the land lease and ROW applications under their respective jurisdictions. EPA and NPS may use this documentation under their authorities. The tribe may use the final EIS to make decisions under its Tribal Environmental Policy Ordinance. And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may use the final EIS to support its decision under the Endangered Species Act.

Photovoltaic technology for this project at up to 200 MW of capacity is the preferred alternative in the EIS. But two other solar technologies are presented as alternatives.

  • Concentrating solar power (CSP) technology focuses sunlight to receivers where the heat is used to produce steam that creates electricity via a conventional steam turbine generator. The CSP technology being proposed for one alternative is the AREVA CSP technology which utilizes the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) system.
  • In another alternative, instead of the AREVA CSP technology, the eSolar CSP technology and solar field would be used. The eSolar CSP power technology uses many small, flat heliostats focused to reflect sunlight onto receivers mounted on towers. The receivers are essentially traditional high-efficiency boilers that generate steam and provide it to a conventional steam turbine power block. The eSolar design is modular, currently with a standard plant size of 46 MW composed of 12 receivers and two subfields of heliostats per receiver. The Moapa Solar project would include three of these modules, with 36 receivers, for a total size of 138 MW on the 850-acre site.
  • The dry-cooling alternative was developed to respond to concerns expressed during public and agency scoping about consumptive water use by the CSP technologies being considered. Under this alternative, either of the CSP alternatives would be constructed using a dry-cooling technology rather than the wet-cooling technology proposed. Dry-cooling uses approximately 90% less water than wet-cooling. Except for the water use, this alternative would be the generally the same as that described for the CSP alternatives.

For this project, two gen-tie transmission lines would be constructed - one to the Harry Allen Substation (via a 230-kV transmission line) and one to the Crystal Substation (via a 500-kV transmission line).

This article was originally published on GenerationHub and was republished with permission.

Lead image: Nevada desert via Shutterstock

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