New solar power plant for California desert gains federal approval

BLYTHE, California (AP) – The Federal Bureau of Land Management has finally approved a solar power plant on public land in the southeastern California desert, the Department of the Interior said Monday.

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

Approval comes amid plans by President Joe Biden to fight climate change, with a goal of 100% renewable energy in the electricity sector by 2035.

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

The decision authorizes Sonoran West Solar Holdings LLC to build the $ 550 million plant on 809.3 acres of land managed by BLM, about 20.9 miles west of the Blythe community in Riverside County.

The deserts of southeastern California offer solar, wind, and geothermal resources, but the consideration of renewable energy projects must also 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 jobs in construction, 10 permanent jobs and 40 temporary jobs in operations and maintenance for 30 years, according to the department.

Energy will be delivered to the grid through the Edison Colorado River substation in Southern California.

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