California Energy Commission Approves 485MW Blythe Solar Power Project Amendment

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In a 5-0 vote, the California Energy Commission approves NextEra Energy’s proposal to use a different solar technology at its proposed 485MW Blythe solar power plant. The approval allows NextEra to switch from a previously approved solar parabolic-through system to solar PV technology, and moves the $1.13 billion project a step closer to construction.

In a 5-0 vote, the California Energy Commission has approved NextEra Energy’s proposal to use a different solar technology at its proposed 485MW Blythe solar power plant, according to Reuters. The approval allows NextEra to switch from a previously approved solar parabolic-through system to solar PV technology, and moves the $1.13 billion project a step closer to construction.

The Blythe solar power plant will be developed on 4,070 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in four phases, with the first three consisting of 125 MW and the fourth generating 110 MW. Construction of the project is expected to last 48 months, and there will be an average of 341 employees during construction, with a peak of 499. Once fully operational, the solar power plant will require approximately 15 employees to operate it.

According to Reuters, officials at NextEra were not immediately available for comment on the company’s planned next steps.

In December 2013, the Blythe Solar Power Project Amendment Committee said the project may have “environmental impacts that are cumulatively significant when considered along with the impacts of other projects in the region. The cumulative impacts that cannot be mitigated to less than significant levels are impacts to biological resources, cultural resources, land use, and visual resources.”

However, the committee concluded that the project benefits, including its contribution to meeting California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating nearly 500 peak construction jobs, and boosting the economy, justify an override of those impacts.

Commissioner Karen Douglas, the presiding member of the committee reviewing the Blythe project, said in a statement: “The project will spur California’s transition to renewable energy and help advance its aggressive climate change goals.”