Department of Interior Approves 520 MW of Solar and Geothermal

The U.S. approved two solar projects and one geothermal plant that will total 520 MW of capacity in Arizona and Nevada. The 100-MW Quartsize Solar Energy project will be located in Arizona, while the 350-MW Midland Solar Project and 70-MW New York Canyon Geothermal Project will be located in Nevada.

According to the Department of the Interior (DOI), each project went through extensive environmental and public review processes in order to minimize environmental and human impacts as part of its “smart-from-the-start” approach to renewable development.

“The President has called for America to continue taking bold steps on clean energy,” said the Bureau of Land Management Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze in a statement. “Our [approach] has helped us do just that, paving the way for responsible development of utility-scale renewable energy projects in the right way and in the right places.”

The Quartsize Solar Project will use SolarReserve’s concentrating solar power (CSP) technology that uses power towers. Heliostats, the fancy word for mirrors, focus the sun on central towers where the heat is used to make steam and spin turbines to generate electricity. Excess energy is stored in molten salts to be used when needed. This technology is similar to the technology in use at the nearly complete 377-MW Ivanpah project in California led by Brightsource. Though the Obama Administration fast-tracked the project for approval, it has yet to score a power purchase agreement (PPA).

Boulder Solar Power will head up the Midland Solar Project, which will consist of 76 acres of photovoltaic panels and transmission infrastructure. The New York Canyon Geothermal Project will be built by TGP Dixie Development Company, a subsidiary of TerraGen Power. According to the DOI, Boulder Power and TerraGen worked closely with environmental agencies to avoid and minimize environmental impacts, which resulted in reduced land coverage, minimized water resource disturbance, and avoidance of wildlife.

All together the projects are expected to create more than 900 jobs from the construction of the plants through the operation of them. The DOI’s Bureau of Land Management has an addition 15 sites slated for review in 2013 and 2014.  

This article is part of our regional news briefs in the completely redesigned Renewable Energy World digital magazine. Subscribe here to recieve a free copy.

Lead image: Approved via Shutterstock

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