[author: Matt Bingham]
The Obama Administration announced last week "that seven nationally and regionally significant solar and wind energy projects will be expedited" through the applicable federal permitting and review processes. The two Arizona projects are: (1) BP Wind's Mohave County Wind Farm, between Kingman and Las Vegas; and (2) SolarReserve's Quartzsite Solar Energy Project, near Quartzsite. The announcement also includes two solar PV projects in California, two solar projects in Nevada, and one wind project in Wyoming for a total of nearly 5,000 MWs of renewable energy. The administration did not provide any details on how the "fast track" program will differ from standard procedure. Both of the Arizona projects had already been identified by the BLM as "Priority Projects" for 2012.
The Quartzsite Solar Energy Project is a 100 MW concentrating solar project planned to be built on BLM land near the Arizona-California border. The project will use "power tower" technology to concentrate sunlight on a receiver on top of a 650 ft. tower. Liquid salt circulating through the receiver will absorb the sun's energy and then be used to create steam that can power a conventional steam turbine. BLM issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project in November 2011. The recent announcement sets a target date of December 2012 for the federal government to complete its review.
The Mohave County Wind Farm will consist of a few hundred wind turbines on approximately 49,000 acres of public land in the White Hills area of Mohave County, approximately 40 miles northwest of Kingman. It could have a capacity as high as 500 MWs and will connect to the grid through existing high-voltage power lines that run through the project area. The BLM issued a Draft EIS for the project in April of this year and, according to the recent announcement, federal review will be completed in January 2013.
Lewis and Roca represented SolarReserve in obtaining a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility from the Arizona Corporation Commission for its Quartzsite project and is currently assisting BP Wind in the same process for the transmission line for its Mohave County Wind Farm.
Read the Arizona Republic's coverage on this announcement here.