Secretary Jewell, of the Department of Interior, announced approval of two utility-scale solar projects located on the California-Nevada border. The Stateline Solar Project will be located in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California, and supply 300-megawatts of renewable energy to power 90,000 homes and create an estimated 400 jobs during constructions and 12 permanent jobs for ongoing operations. The second project, the Silver State South Solar Project located just across the border in Nevada, will provide 250-megawatts to power 80,000 homes and create 15 permanent jobs.
First Solar proposed both of these projects, which are part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs. Southern California Edison has committed to purchasing the projects’ output for 20 years.
The California project is not without controversy. The Defenders of Wildlife have filed a notice of intent to sue the government under the Endangered Species Act with regard to the California project claiming it will isolate the habitat of the endangered desert tortoise in that region. They have, however, supported the Nevada project, which has no such implications. The Secretary’s office states that there has been a thorough environmental review and “robust mitigation provisions.” First Solar must fund over $3.6 million for desert tortoise mitigation and another $3.5 million for studies intended to guide future efforts to protect the tortoise.
These two projects will make 50 total utility-scale renewable energy projects approved on public lands since 2009.