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Blythe Solar Plant Changing From Thermal to Photovoltaic

By Robert Winkler
The Desert Independent

July 5, 2012

BLYTHE, Calif On June 28, 2012, Palo Verde Solar I, llC (PVSI) filed a petition with the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) requesting to modify the Blythe Solar Power Project (BSPP) by replacing the solar thermal technology completely with photovoltaic (PV) generating technology. The one megawatt solar thermal project was originally certified by the Energy Commission on September 15, 2010.

The facility will be located approximately eight miles west of the City of Blythe and two miles north of the I-10 on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

PVSI proposes to develop the BSPP in eight operational phases designed to generate a total of approximately 1,000 MW nominal of electricity. Each phase will consist of approximately 125 MW nominal of electricity. Access to the site will be the same as the approved project described in the final decision, and the BSPP will continue to interconnect to the regional transmission grid at Southern California Edison's Colorado River Substation (CRS) which is currently under construction. During operations, all eight units would share an operations and maintenance facility, an on-site substation, access and maintenance roads (either dirt, gravel or paved), perimeter fencing and other ancillary security facilities, and a double-circuit 230 kV gen-tie transmission line. The total acreage of the Modified Project will be approximately 7,345 acres. If approved by the Energy Commission, the first phase of the 1,000 MW solar PV energy-generating project could start construction on the project site as early as April 2013.

The following is a list of the proposed modifications to the project:

  • The previously planned four power blocks (which each included a steam turbine, evaporation pond, auxiliary boiler, air-cooled condenser, and equipment) and structures have been eliminated.

  • The land Treatment Units for heat transfer fluid have been eliminated.

  • The Helio Trough energy collection systems have been eliminated and replaced with PV panels configured for either horizontal tracking or fixed tilt operations.

  • The substation will be relocated near the center of the disturbance area.

  • The large assembly hall will be eliminated.

  • The concrete batch plant will be eliminated.

  • The natural gas line has been eliminated.

  • The water treatment system, associated waste and evaporation ponds have been reduced from eight ponds to two.

  • The large drainage structures surrounding the site will be reduced in size or eliminated.

  • The amount of mass grading will be reduced.

  • The project footprint would include private land recently acquired by PVSI.

  • The project footprint has been modified to allow two alternative transmission and access road corridors to accommodate the NextEra McCoy and the EnXco projects proposed to the north of the BSPP.

  • A minor modification to a portion of the BSPP transmission line ROW in area of south of 1-10 to accommodate NextEra McCoy project and the EnXco project transmission line interconnections to the CRS.

  • Water use during construction will be reduced from approximately 4,100 AF to 3,500-4,000 AF during the duration of construction.

  • Water use during operations will be reduced from approximately 600 Acre Feet per Year to between 60 to 88 Acre Feet per Year.

The California Energy Commission's will review the changes to assess any impacts the proposed modifications would have on environmental quality and public health and safety.

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