Washington, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar this week approved the construction of yet another large-scale solar energy project on U.S. public lands. This one, the Amargosa Farm Road Solar Project will be built in Nevada and is the second plant approved for public lands in that state.
Solar Millennium will develop the 500-megawatt facility that will use concentrated solar power (CSP) technology to collect solar energy from two 250-MW parabolic troughs and use dry-cooled power plants equipped with thermal energy storage capability.
According to the Department of the Interior (DOI), the project has undergone extensive environmental review, starting with public scoping and followed by a draft environmental impact statement with full public involvement and a final Environmental Impact Statement that was published on October 15.
DOI said that the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service worked closely with Solar Millennium to develop a water mitigation plan that they hope will serve as a model for future solar projects. The plan is said to ensure that the project will have a net neutral benefit on the plant and animal species found at nearby Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and Devils Hole.
The BLM also worked with Solar Millennium to reduce the approved project footprint from 7,630 acres to 6,320 acres with a disturbance area of 4,350 acres, according to DOI. BLM will require a natural color palette and minimum night lighting measures to reduce visual impacts on the local community.
Through the ARRA, Solar Millennium is eligible for approximately $1 billion in Investment Tax credits. The company is also eligible to apply for financing through the DOE Title 17 Loan Guarantee Program. The company is in PPA negotiations with NV Energy to sell the electricity generated by the plant to the utility.