California Energy Commission Letterhead
 

Notice of Energy Commission Staff Workshop and BLM Public Meeting on the Staff Assessment/Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Imperial Valley Solar Project (formerly SES Solar Two) (08-AFC-5)

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) staff will conduct workshop on the Staff Assessment/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SA/DEIS) for the Imperial Valley Solar Project (formerly Stirling Energy Systems Solar Two Project) on March 22, 2010, with the option to continue the workshop to March 23, 2010 if necessary. The purpose of the workshop is to discuss the BLM and Energy Commission staff's SA/DEIS and addendum. All interested agencies and members of the public are invited to participate. Participants and the public are encouraged to participate via telephone to minimize travel. The workshop will be held:

Monday, March 22, 2010
(Continued to Tuesday, March 23, 2010 if necessary)
8:00 a.m.

San Diego Gas & Electric Renewable Center
1425 W. Main Street
El Centro, CA 92243
(Map to Location)

To Participate Remotely:
Instructions to Connect via Telephone Only (No Computer Access)

  1. Call: 1-866-469-3239
  2. When prompted enter this meeting number: 924 968 077 (use 925 860 831 for 3/23/10 if workshop is continued)
  3. When it asks for Attendee ID press: #

Instructions to Connect via Computer Logon with a Direct Phone Number

  1. Go to https://energy.webex.com and enter the unique meeting number: 924 968 077 (use 925 860 831 for 3/23/10 if workshop is continued)
  2. When prompted, enter your information and the following meeting password: SITING123!
  3. After you login, a prompt will appear on-screen for you to provide your phone number. In the Number box, type your area code and phone number and click OK to receive a call back on your phone for the audio of the meeting. International callers can use the "Country/Region" button to help make their connection.

Purpose

The BLM and Energy Commission filed the SA/DEIS for the Imperial Valley Solar Project (formerly known as the SES Solar Two Project) on February 12, 2010. The purpose of this SA/DEIS workshop is for staff to summarize its conclusions and to receive comments from the applicant, public, interveners in the proceeding, and local, state and federal agencies. Environmental and engineering related topics and any outstanding issues will be discussed. Discussions will include all topics contained in the SA/DEIS with a focus on: Air Quality, Biology, Cultural Resources, Land Use, and Soil and Water Resources. Comments from the workshop and any written communication will be used to revise the SA/DEIS and complete the Supplemental Staff Assessment/Final EIS. Public comments on the SA/DEIS are welcome and encouraged to be submitted in writing by May 20, 2010, to Christopher Meyer, Project Manager, at the address on this letterhead.

Project Description

The proposed project would utilize SunCatcher technology, consisting of approximately 30,000 25-kilowatt solar power dishes with a generating capacity of approximately 750 megawatts (MW) to be built in two phases. The first phase would consist of up to 12,000 SunCatchers configured in 200 1.5 MW solar groups of 60 SunCatchers per group and have a net nominal generating capacity of 300 MW. The second phase would consist of approximately 18,000 SunCatchers configured in 500 1.5 MW groups with a net generating capacity of 450 MW. Each SunCatcher system consists of an approximate 40-foot high by 40-foot wide solar concentrator dish that supports an array of curved glass mirror facets designed to automatically track the sun and focus solar energy onto a Power Conversion Unit which generates electricity. Related structures would include a main services complex, assembly buildings, a 230-kilovolt (kV) electrical substation, access roads, water supply line, and a 10-mile double circuit 230-kV transmission line from the project site to San Diego Gas and Electric's existing Imperial Valley electrical substation interconnecting the project to the existing 500-kV transmission system. The 450 MW Phase II is dependent on construction of the Sunrise Powerlink 500-kV transmission line that would also interconnect with the Imperial Valley electrical substation.

Background

On October 8, 2008, the Energy Commission began review of the project. The Energy Commission has the exclusive authority to certify the construction, modification, and operation of thermal electric power plants 50 MW or larger in California. The Energy Commission certification is in lieu of any permit required by state, regional, or local agencies and federal agencies to the extent permitted by federal law (Pub. Resources Code, Sec. 25500). The Energy Commission must review thermal power plant applications for certification (AFC) to assess potential measures to mitigate identified impacts, and to insure compliance with applicable governmental laws or standards (Pub. Resources Code, Sec. 25519 and Sec. 25523(d)). The Energy Commission is the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), but produces several environmental and decision documents rather than an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). If approved by the Energy Commission, the decision will establish the conditions under which the project shall be constructed, operated, and decommissioned.

Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), the BLM is responsible for processing applications for rights-of-way to authorize the proposed project and associated transmission lines and other facilities to be constructed and operated on land it manages. In processing applications, the BLM must comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires that federal agencies consider the environmental impacts associated with the projects they approve.

The purpose of the BLM action is to provide the applicant a decision in processing its application for a right-of-way (ROW) grant for legal use and access of the public lands in Imperial County, California managed by the BLM. The need for BLM action is established by the BLM's responsibility under FLPMA, NEPA and other federal laws to respond to Imperial Valley Solar's request for a ROW for legal access to construct, operate and decommission a proposed concentrated solar thermal generation plant and related facilities on the public lands. BLM will decide whether or not to grant a ROW, and if so, under what terms and conditions.

The ROW application, if granted, would also create the need for amending the BLM California Desert Conservation Plan (1980 as amended) (CDCP). The purpose of the CDCP amendment is to ensure the public lands are managed according to the principles of multiple use identified in FLPMA while managing valid existing rights and other obligations established. The proposed amendment is necessary to address changing resource demands and technological development proposals on public lands. The CDCP as amended requires (page 95) that "Sites associated with power generation or transmission not identified in the Plan (as is this case) will be considered through the Plan Amendment process."

Pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the BLM and the Energy Commission staff intend to conduct a joint environmental review of the Imperial Valley Solar Project in a NEPA/ CEQA process. It is in the interest of the BLM and the Energy Commission to share in the preparation of a joint environmental analysis of the proposed project to avoid duplication of staff efforts, to share staff expertise and information, to promote intergovernmental coordination at the local, state, and federal levels, and to facilitate public review by providing a joint document and a more efficient environmental review process.

Public Participation

The Energy Commission's Public Adviser's Office provides the public with assistance in participating in Commission activities. If you want information on how to participate in this proceeding, please contact the Public Adviser, Jennifer Jennings, at: (916) 654-4489, toll free at (800) 822-6228, by FAX at (916) 654-4493, or by e-mail at public.adviser@energy.state.ca.us. If you have a disability and require assistance to participate, please contact Lourdes Quiroz at lquiroz@energy.state.ca.us or at (916) 654-5146 at least five days in advance or the workshop. If you need Spanish translation services, please contact Christopher Meyer, the Energy Commission Project Manager, at least five days in advance of the workshop.

Questions

General information about the proposed generating facility and related documents are available on the Energy Commission's website at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/solartwo/index.html or the BLM's website at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/elcentro/nepa/stirling.html.

Please direct all news media inquiries to the Energy Commission's media office at (916) 654-4989 or e-mail at mediaoffice@energy.state.ca.us. For technical questions on the subject matter, please contact Christopher Meyer, the Energy Commission Project Manager, at (916) 653-1639 or by e-mail at: cmeyer@energy.state.ca.us or Jim Stobaugh, the BLM Project Manager, at (775) 861-6478 or by e-mail at: jim_stobaugh@blm.gov. If you are unable to attend the workshop, written comments can also be submitted by May 20, 2010, the end of the public comment period on the SA/DEIS.

Date: March 4, 2010

Terrence O'Brien, Deputy Director
Siting, Transmission, and Environmental Protection Division