For Immediate Release: March 26, 2010
Media Contact: Michele Demetras - 916-654-4989


Joint Staff Assessment/Environmental Impact Statement
Released for Ridgecrest Solar Project in Kern County

SACRAMENTO - The staff of the California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today released a joint staff assessment/draft environmental impact statement (SA/DEIS) for the Ridgecrest Solar Power Project. The project is being developed by Solar Millennium, LLC.

The 250-megawatt facility, to be located on public land immediately south of U.S. Highway 395 approximately five miles southwest of the city of Ridgecrest in Kern County, would help meet California's goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and producing 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. An application has been filed with the BLM for a right-of-way grant of approximately 3,920 acres. The total area for the proposed plant is approximately 1,760 acres.

While not a final decision on the project, the SA/DEIS will serve as commission staff's testimony and recommended mitigation measures during the evidentiary hearings phase on the proposed project. The joint SA/DEIS for the Ridgecrest Solar Project is now available for public comment. A notice of availability (NOA) for the SA/DEIS is being posted and distributed by the BLM and will be published in the Federal Register. An official 90-day comment period will begin upon publication in the Federal Register by the Environmental Protection Agency expected shortly.

The Energy Commission will conduct evidentiary hearings at a later date and Commission staff/BLM will publish a supplemental staff assessment/final environmental impact statement (SAA/FEIS). The Energy Commission will then publish the presiding member's proposed decision (PMPD). The PMPD will be available for public review and comment, after which the full Commission renders a final decision and the federal government issues its record of decision and land use plan amendment on the proposed project. If the project is approved, BLM will issue a right-of-way grant to the applicant and implement its plan amendment. The decisions are currently expected this year.

The Energy Commission and the BLM jointly review solar thermal projects of 50 megawatts and greater proposed on public land managed by the BLM. The Commission is the lead permitting agency under the California Environmental Quality Act. The BLM is the lead permitting agency under the National Environmental Policy Act.

If approved, the project will utilize solar parabolic trough technology to generate electricity. Parabolic troughs focus sunlight on liquid-filled receivers suspended over large mirrors to create steam that drives an electricity-generating turbine.

For additional details on the Ridgecrest Solar Project SA/DEIS, click on:

For more information on Governor Schwarzenegger's Executive Order to advance the state's Renewables Portfolio Standards, go to: