Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2022
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — The Department of the Interior today announced that the Blythe Solar Power Project – a four-unit, 485-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic facility and 387 MW battery energy storage system in Riverside County, California – is now fully operational. The project, which will produce enough energy to power nearly approximately 145,500 homes, represents another major step forward in the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to lower costs for families and create a clean energy, carbon-free future.
“Bringing another solar project to full operation on our public lands will accelerate our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy by unlocking renewable resources, creating jobs, lowering costs, and boosting local economies,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The Interior Department will continue to advance the sustainable development of clean energy in order to help meet the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035.”
“The Blythe Solar Power Project is another example of how BLM-managed public lands are powering our clean energy future – including through added battery energy storage systems to these important projects,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, Director of the Bureau of Land Management. “The BLM will continue its swift work to ensure that renewable energy projects have a transparent and predictable process to help ensure their success.”
The Blythe Solar Power Project was permitted as part of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) Land Use Plan Amendment. The DRECP is a landscape-level plan focused on 10.8 million acres of public lands in the desert regions of seven California counties that streamlines renewable energy development while conserving unique and valuable desert ecosystems and providing outdoor recreation opportunities. To approve these sites for renewable energy projects, the BLM works with Tribal governments, local communities, state regulators, industry, and other federal agencies.
The solar facility was completed in four phases starting in January 2015 and ending in November 2020. Phase one consisted of 110 MW, and phases two through four added an additional 125 MW each. The battery energy storage system was approved in 2020. Today, all 485 MW from the solar facility and 387 MW of battery storage are fully operational.
The BLM is currently processing 64 utility-scale onshore clean energy projects proposed on public lands in the western United States. This includes solar, wind and geothermal projects, as well as interconnect gen-tie lines that are vital to clean energy projects proposed on non-federal land. These projects have the combined potential to add over 41,000 megawatts of renewable energy to the western electric grid. The BLM is also undertaking the preliminary review of 90 applications for solar and wind development, as well as 51 applications for wind and solar energy testing.
Today’s announcement follows several recent renewable energy and conservation approvals via the DRECP. The renewable energy approvals include construction of the Oberon, Arica and Victory Pass solar projects near Desert Center in eastern Riverside County. The Department also announced that the Palen Solar Project has reached full power operation.
The BLM also reached a conservation milestone through the DRECP with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife by approving the JB Eastern Slope Mitigation project, which will restore 158,000 acres of BLM-managed public lands as part of state-required mitigation for solar development on private lands.
Additional information, including National Environmental Policy Act documents, are available on ePlanning at the Blythe Solar Power Project webpage.