New solar plant for California desert gains federal approval

BLYTHE, Calif. — The federal Bureau of Land Management has given final approval for a solar power plant on public lands in the southeastern California desert, the Interior Department said Monday.

The Crimson Solar Project, which includes a 350-megawatt energy storage system, could supply enough power for 87,500 homes, the department said.

The approval comes amid President Joe Biden’s plans to fight climate change, with a goal of 100% renewable energy in the power sector by 2035.

“The time for a clean energy future is now,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.

The decision authorizes Sonoran West Solar Holdings LLC to build the $550 million plant on about 2,000 acres (809.3 hectares) of BLM-administered lands about 13 miles (20.9 kilometers) west of the Riverside County community of Blythe.

The deserts of southeastern California offer sun, wind and geothermal resources, but consideration of renewable energy projects also must take into account plant and animal species, tribal heritage and recreational interests.

The Interior Department said the Crimson Solar Project was proposed before the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan was created to determine which areas should be conserved and which should not, but the site is within an area designated for development.

The project will create about 650 temporary construction jobs, 10 permanent jobs and 40 temporary jobs in operations and maintenance over 30 years, the department said.

Power will be delivered to the grid through Southern California Edison’s Colorado River substation.

Sonoran West is a wholly owned subsidiary of Recurrent Energy LLC.

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