Bird Deaths at Toxic Heap Leach Ponds
October 29, 2014 - Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County CA - Sixty-four birds died after probably drinking an oily chemical in the solar project waste-water evaporation ponds, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Four more birds were injured and taken to a bird rescue and rehabilitation facility headquartered in Fairfield.
When the California Energy Commission approved the Genesis solar plant’s license in 2010, it required that netting with mesh no larger than 1 1/2 inches be installed to keep birds out of the plant’s potentially harmful waste water. The netting was installed last year as required, but heavy winds from an August monsoonal thunderstorm destroyed the netting.
See more at the Press Enterprise - http://www.pe.com/articles/birds-753040-plant-ponds.html
Genesis Solar Energy Project Online
April 26, 2014 - Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County CA - The large-scale concentrated solar energy parabolic trough plant was dedicated on April 24 in a ceremony is now feeding electricity to the grid. The public was not invited even though the project recieved a huge Department of Energy loan gaurantee.
October 9, 2013 - Monitoring reports for August 2013 reveal the diversity of avian mortality happening at the Genesis Solar Energy Project still under construction.
The mirrors look like lakes. Birds are deceived by a water-like appearance and end up colliding with mirrors or dehydrating.
^A dead American kestrel from the Genesis Solar Energy Project.
- American kestrel
- Black-crowned Night Heron
- Herring gull
- Ring-billed gull
- Common loon
- Eared grebe
- Lesser nighthawk
- Mourning dove
- Northern rough-winged swallow
- Tree swallow
- Cliff swallow
- Loggerhead shrike
- Black phoebe
- Say’s phoebe
- Hermit warbler
- Black-headed grosbeak
- Sage sparrow
- Lazuli bunting
- Yellow-headed blackbird
- Brown-headed cowbird
- Bullock's oriole
The project does not have a Take permit that we are aware of but are subjected to an avian monitoring plan. The problem with a "monitoring" plan is that it is considered different from mitigation and so far, there are no actual plans to provide any effective mitigation other than land enhancement somewhere else. As far as we know, they have no way to prevent the birds from hitting the mirrors. They tell us they are "working" on the mitigation.
Linked here is the August, 2013 monthly compliance report for the Genesis Solar Project:
Flood Damage Update
September 17, 2013 - We received this report from the Bureau of Land Management:
Genesis Solar Project
Between August 22nd and August 25th, numerous rain events occurred in the Chuckwalla Valley. These events led to onsite damage at the Genesis Solar Project including standing water within the site and access road areas; damage to perimeter security and desert tortoise fencing; breaching of several levees; improper functioning of detention basins resulting in concentrated water flows and erosion; along with offsite flows in several other areas where the storm water drainage system was inadequate to channel runoff as designed.
An assessment of these issues has taken place and improvements are proposed to eliminate any further problems. These include installation drain outlet piping, improving up to 400 feet of level weir to produce sheet flow in lieu of the present concentrated flows and resultant down-cutting, and installation of erosion resistant materials where breaching had occurred.
In addition, the drain apron at the end of Channel A, located on the western side of the project, functioned in a manner that allowed for concentrated water flows to enter and flow through a recorded archaeological site. This drain apron, however, was designed to discharge storm water at lower velocity sheet flows that would approximate natural storm runoff. Redesign measures are being assessed to insure that the archaeological site is protected.
We continue to work with these projects on their storm water drainage systems in order to make them more effecient and reduce the potential for additional unanticipated off-site damage.
Please feel free to contact us again on these matters.
John R. Kalish, Acting Dep. District Manager, Resources
Bureau of Land Management
California Desert District
22836 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos
Moreno Valley, CA 92553-9046
Photos and Report of Flood Damage
August 25, 2012 - The California Energy Commission placed reports and photographs of the July 31 flood that damaged the Genesis Solar Energy Project in Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, California.
We have heard reports from three different sources that just in the last few days another massive storm event hit the Blythe and Chuckwalla Valley area, with winds flipping trucks on the I-10 highway, homes in Blythe flooded, and other rain damage. The Genesis project may have suffered more storm disturbance.
Massive Flood Damages Project
August 6, 2012 - In a recent conversation with Bureau of Land Management we learned that a huge flash flood, typical of the Colorado Desert, hit the Genesis Solar Energy Project within the last few weeks. The damage was described as"massive".
Pylons for the trough mirrors were knocked over, foundations uprooted, whole erosion terraces were overwhelmed and are gone. There is an estimated tens of millions of dollars worth of damage to the solar thermal project.
BLM is meeting with NextEra the project owner today to assess the damage. Chuckwalla Valley is prone to large flood events during the summer monsoon season, as large thunderstorms swirl over from Arizona and Mexico, releasing inches of rain in a few hours. BLM will also assess any damage to sensitive archaeological sites in the project area, that may be impacted by altered surface geology from development and erosion control structures.
NextEra received $852 million from the Department of Energy as a loan guarantee.
NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, announced in 2011 that its subsidiary, Genesis Solar, LLC, closed on construction and term financing consisting of $702 million in project bonds, a $150 million project term loan facility and an $83 million project letter of credit facility. The U.S. Department of Energy provided a loan guarantee of 80 percent of the principal and interest on the project bonds and project term loan under its Financial Institution Partnership Program. The Genesis project is a 250-megawatt utility-scale concentrating solar thermal generating facility featuring proven parabolic trough solar thermal technology, located in Riverside County, California.
February 21, 2012 - The Fast-tracked environmental review is coming back to bite the Genesis Solar Energy Project as work was halted on construction. During earth-moving activities an apparently large array of important cultural sites and artifacts was discovered.
Evidence of a human settlement spread was found on November 17 including grinding stones lying on a bed of charcoal — possible evidence of an ancient cremation site.
^View of Ford Dry Lake looking northeast. A flowering Creosote (Larrea tridentata) grows in the foreground.
In a subsequent meeting with Colorado River Indian Tribes, a federally recognized reservation just east of the work site, Bureau of Land Management officials described the discovery as "unprecedented," tribal leaders said.
On January 16, 2012, over 10 Tribal Chairman, other traditional/indigenous people, and Alfredo Figueroa of La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle met at the Agua Caliente Casino Conference Center with the BLM and solar company officials. "All the tribes expressed their adamant opposition against the Genesis project so that they could stop this destruction immediately," Mr. Figueroa told us. The area has a network of ancient trails heading from these village sites to springs in the surrounding mountains and to the Colorado River. Many traditional groups today hold this area sacred.
The remains are protected by the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Work was stopped on 400 acres, or one-fifth of the project's total area, while state and federal archaeologists conduct a detailed assessment. California Energy Commission docket logs show that extensive mapping, geoarchaeological trenching, and new assessments are ongoing. The reports remain confidential due to the sensistive nature of the finds.
In 2010 testimony before the California Energy Commission, archaeologist David S. Whitley warned that Ford Dry Lake at the southern end of the Genesis site had been a gathering place for prehistoric people who cremated their dead. Based on surface archaeological sampling at least three locations within the Genesis project area appeared "to represent lake shore village sites that have the potential to contain burials/cemeteries," Whitley said.
To avoid the old lake shore area, NextEra reconfigured the project, moving it about two miles north. But the company did not follow customary methods for searching the new site for human remains. Instead of using established but costly and time-consuming procedures, NextEra was allowed to use revised guidelines by the the agencies to expedite Genesis and three other desert solar projects.
See the story in the Los Angeles Times : http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-solar-foxes-20120211,0,4708180.story
A letter sent widely on February 14, 2012, by Alfredo Figueroa of La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle:
Dear Defenders of Mother Earth,
We are undergoing one of the biggest struggles of our lives in the defense of scared sites. As we know, President Obama’s fast track stimulus money projects have a complete failure as demonstrated by the Solyndra Company’s disaster, the Solar Trust of America Blythe Solar project bankruptcy and other companies which are also filing bankruptcy. In addition, the Imperial Valley Solar, LCC Project was stopped by the Quechan Tribe on February 6, 2012.
La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle has filed lawsuits on 6-other solar projects and currently the Genesis Solar Power Project has been stopped due to the findings of a large 400-acre village and hundreds of indigenous artifacts that we had advice the company of in our public comment letters that was presented to them nearly 2-years ago. In addition, on May 2011 the Solar Millennium Company destroyed the True North and Sun Complex Geoglyphs that are located within the Kokopilli/Cicimitl Twin geoglyph group by the construction of a 150ft. wide by 5-mile long roadway.
In order to amend the failing fast-track stimulus money solar programs concerning sacred sites, on January 17, 2012, the Colorado River, Eastern Riverside County Tribes and members of our organization met at the Agua Caliente Casino Conference Center in Palm Springs, California with the BLM and the Department of Interior representatives. This meeting was to discuss the sacredness of these areas and the vast destruction that has already taken place within the Blythe and Genesis Solar Power Project sites.
We are also opposing to the construction of solar panel projects because of their gross violation to the following indigenous State, Federal, Mexico and United Nation laws that support our demands and why these projects should not be constructed within sacred areas:
*United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous People. Resolution adapted by the General Assembly during the 107th plenary meeting, September 13, 2007. (61/295) (Includes: Article 11 that stipulates Indigenous archeological rights.)
*Native American Sacred Places, March 6, 2003 (S.B. 18)
*Native American Sacred Lands Act, June 11, 2003 (H.R. 2419)
*The Sacred Land Protection Act, July 18, 2002 (H.R. 5155)
*The Native American Sacred Sites Protection Act, February 22, 2002 (S.B. 1828)
*Accommodations of Sacred Sites and Federal Land, Signed by President Bill Clinton on May 24, 1996 (Executive Order 13007)
*Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act of 1990
*Archeological Resource Protection Act of 1979
*American Indian Religious Freedom Act, August 11, 1978
*The Civil Right Act of 1968
*Antiquities Act of 1906
All humans have been placed on earth to be guardians of Mother Earth and not the destroyers so please help us stop the destruction of sacred sites. Please distribute attached information widely and contact your local Federal Congressman, Senators, President Obama and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar.
Thank you for all your help and support and please feel free to contact us for additional information,
Alfredo Acosta Figueroa
Elder/Historian of Protection Circle
424 North Carlton Ave.
Blythe, CA 92225
President of Protection Circle
424 North Carlton Ave.
Blythe, CA 92225
February 15, 2012 - The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announced on January 24 that it is investigating the death of seven desert kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis) from canine distemper in eastern Riverside County. These deaths happened over December and January and are the first documented cases of canine distemper in wild desert kit foxes.
^Desert kit fox (Photo: DFG)
DFG reported that the kit foxes were found 20 miles outside of Blythe on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and leased to Genesis Solar LLC to construct a utility-scale solar project. The animals were turned over to DFG’s wildlife investigations lab for testing. The necropsies determined that distemper was the cause of death, but it is not known how the foxes contracted the disease. Canine distemper can cycle naturally in wild carnivore populations, but can also be transmitted to and from domestic animals that come in contact with wildlife.
“Although we do not know if this outbreak was started by an infected domestic animal, it is important for people to vaccinate their pets regularly,” said DFG Wildlife Veterinarian Deana Clifford. “Vaccination will not only protect your pet but help protect wildlife populations from disease outbreaks.”
To better understand the extent of the disease, how it was contracted and how to prevent it, wildlife officials trapped, tested and tagged 39 foxes. Researchers also attached radio collars to 12 of these foxes in order to obtain health information for the study.
In addition, a subset of 27 kit foxes received a distemper vaccine and were released back into the wild. Researchers hope this vaccine, specifically developed for use in species that are very sensitive to the virus, will create an immune response in the desert kit fox population.
DFG is coordinating its efforts with the California Energy Commission, who is the state permitter for the solar project, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Construction on the solar project site has been temporarily halted, in part due to the kit fox distemper discovery.
“We are working closely with the company in an effort to avoid additional impacts to desert kit foxes in areas where construction is under way,” said BLM’s Palm Springs Field Manager John Kalish.
The causes of the spread of the distemper virus are as yet unkown. The most likely host would be domestic or feral dogs. We have visited the Genesis solar site and the area is remote from towns or communities, a wild desert valley little visited except by passing four-wheel drive explorers. We saw no evidence of feral dog packs, which are usually a problem next to larger urbanized areas. Mention has been made by agency personell that dogs at the rest stop several miles away on I-10 could be the source. Others have wondered whether workers brought pets on site. Coyotes could be another host, but less likely.
California Energy Commission compliance documents (http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/genesis_solar/compliance/submittals/MCR_November_2011.pdf) mention the use of coyote urine to scare kit foxes away from their burrows during pre-construction activites on the Genesis solar project site. Agencies have recommended "passive relocation" of kit foxes from their burrows, where the burrows are monitored until the foxes run out, then the burrows are collapsed so the animals will not return before the bulldozers come. The coyote scent may be thought to increase the likelihood of repelling the smaller foxes from the area. Survival of the virus would be very low in open sunlight, but it is not impossible that a virus shed in urine could infect a fox soon after deposited. Coyote urine should be tested before use.
^Kit fox burrow southwest of Genesis Project, 2011.
See Chris Clarke's article on the possible role that coyote urine might have played in the kit fox deaths:
The role of disturbance of the desert habitat and anthropogenic effects impinging on this remote wild area need to be studied. Is the large-scale solar project somehow linked to the first documented disptemper outbreak among kit foxes?
The Los Angeles Times did a story on the Genesis kit fox deaths here:
Mowing and Off-roading Authorized for Genesis Desert Site
April 24, 2011 - The California Eenergy Commission authorization allows Biological monitors to drive all over the desert habitat on ATVs following the mowing machines to check for Kit fox activity in burrows. So this area will become a de facto off-roading area before it becomes a solar field.
This is Colorado Desert with creosote, big galleta grass, desert ironwood, milkweed, and wildflowers such as desert lily.
SUBJECT: GENESIS SOLAR ENERGY PROJECT (09-AFC-8C)
AUTHORIZATION TO MOW PROJECT SITE AND SURVEY FOR
The Energy Commission staff has reviewed the April 12, 2011 request from Tetra Tech
to mow the Genesis Solar Energy Project (GSEP) site and then survey the site for
unexploded ordinance (UXOs). Staff approves the request to begin mowing and
sweeping as of April 22, 2011, as long as the biological conditions detailed in this letter,
and the cultural resource conditions attached, are employed.
Labor Group CURE Sues Interior
January 3, 2011 - California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) sued the Secretary of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, claiming the 250-megawatt Genesis project will pump too much groundwater from the Chuckwalla Basin. Because the aquifer is hydrologically connected to the Colorado River, the groundwater pumping must be viewed as withdrawal from the Colorado River, and subject to all the restrictions of the multistate Colorado River Compact, or "Law of the River," according to the complaint in Los Angeles Federal Court.
The Genesis Solar Energy Project will use about 202 acre-feet of water per year, according to the complaint. An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre 1 foot deep. City planners consider 1 acre foot enough water for one suburban home for a year.
The project will use about 2,440 acre-feet of water during construction, the complaint states.
"The Genesis Project's sole source of water will be groundwater pumped from an area of the Chuckwalla Valley Groundwater Basin, which the United States Geological Survey determined to be hydrologically connected to the Colorado River," according to the complaint.
Genesis Solar is a wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, of Juno Beach, Fla., which is a consortium of FPL Group and Florida Power & Light.
The plaintiffs - CURE and two people - claim the federal government's "hasty approval" of the Genesis Project violation the National Environmental Policy Act, because BLM "did not adequately analyze and mitigate the Genesis Project's impact on the adjudicated and fully appropriated Colorado River, and violated FLMPA [the Federal Land Management and Policy Act] and the Administrative Procedure Act ('APA') by not acting in accordance with the Law of the River."
CURE wants the approvals and rights of way vacated, and withdrawal of groundwater from the basin and "any ground-disturbing activities" enjoined until the defendants comply "with the substantive and procedural mandates of NEPA and FLMPA."
Genesis Solar, however, says that the water used to generate power will be returned to the aquifer in discharge ponds. The amount lost to evaporation could be subject to wildly differing estimates, depending whether it is simply dumped under the open sky, dumped into covered ponds, or injected into the ground.
The substantive claim about the Law of the River, while also procedural, could stop the project for decades, as all seven states with a claim to Colorado River water would presumably have to be consulted and weigh in on it.
^Ironwood tree on the Genesis project site.
Salazar Approves Genesis
November 4, 2010 - Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved the Genesis Solar Project, a 250 megawatt facility that will use parabolic trough solar thermal technology.
“The Genesis Solar Project will help stimulate the economy and create more than a thousand new jobs in California,” Secretary Salazar said in signing the Record of Decision. “This is the seventh renewable energy project approved through the fast-track process in less than four weeks -- a giant leap forward in meeting the President's goals for developing domestic energy resources, reducing carbon emissions, promoting energy independence, and enhancing our national security.”
Proposed by Genesis Solar LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, the facility will be located on nearly 1,950 acres of public land 25 miles west of Blythe, in Riverside County, California. The decision today authorized Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to offer Genesis Solar a right-of-way grant to use these public lands for 30 years if all rents and other conditions are met.
Salazar commended California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the people of California for their foresight and extraordinary level of cooperation. “This fast-track renewable projects process clearly demonstrated how separate government processes can be streamlined, without cutting any corners or skipping any environmental checks and balances in the process,” Salazar said.
“Less than a year ago, the BLM committed to helping diversify our country's energy portfolio in an environmentally responsible manner. Today, we are approving our seventh major solar generating project,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey. “This clearly demonstrates our ability to site large-scale renewable energy projects appropriately on public lands.”
The Genesis project has undergone extensive environmental review, starting with public scoping in November 2009, followed by a draft environment impact statement (EIS) with full public involvement in March 2010 and a final EIS August 27, 2010. Genesis Solar is providing funding for more than 2,000 acres of desert tortoise and Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat to mitigate the project’s impacts. Genesis also will employ a dry cooling plan, instead of a wet-cooling alternative, to reduce the project’s projected water use from 1,400 acre-feet per year to only 200 acre-feet a year.
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s payments in lieu of tax credits for specified energy program, Genesis Solar can apply for payments of up to 30 percent of the eligible costs of the Genesis Solar Energy Project—about $300 million.
California Energy Commission Licenses Project
September 29, 2010 - >>here.
BLM Final Environmental Impact Statement Out
August 30, 2010 - Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Genesis Solar, LLC Genesis Solar Energy Project and Proposed California Desert Conservation Area Plan Amendment, from the Bureau of Land Management.
SUMMARY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as amended (FLPMA), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has prepared a Proposed California Desert Conservation Act Plan Amendment/Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Genesis Solar LLC's Genesis Solar Energy Project (GSEP) and by this notice is announcing its availability.
DATES: The publication of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Notice of Availability (NOA) of this Final EIS in the Federal Register initiates a 30-day public comment period. In addition, the BLM's planning regulations state that any person who meets the conditions as described in the regulations may protest the BLM's Proposed CDCA Plan Amendment. A person who meets the conditions and files a protest must
file the protest within 30 days of the date that EPA publishes its NOA in the Federal Register.
ADDRESSES: Copies of the Proposed Plan Amendment/Final EIS for the GSEP have been sent to affected Federal, state, and local government agencies and to other stakeholders. Copies of the Proposed Plan Amendment/Final EIS are available for public inspection at the Palm Springs South Coast Field Office, 1201 Bird Center Drive, Palm Springs,
California 92262. Interested persons may also review the document at the following Web site: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/palmsprings/Solar_Projects/Genesis_Ford_Dry_Lake.html. Submit comments on the Final EIS to the Palm Springs South Coast Field Office at the address above or e-mail them to CAPSSolarNextEraFPL@blm.gov.
All protests must be in writing and mailed to one of the following addresses:
Regular Mail: BLM Director (210), Attention: Brenda Williams, P.O. Box 66538, Washington, DC 20035.
Overnight Mail: BLM Director (210), Attention: Brenda Williams, 1620 L Street, NW., Suite 1075, Washington, DC 20036.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Allison Shaffer, BLM Project Manager, telephone (760) 833-7100; address (see ADDRESSES, above); or e-mail
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Genesis Solar, LLC has submitted an application to the BLM for development of the proposed GSEP, which would consist of two independent solar electric generating facilities with a nominal net electrical output of 125 megawatts (MW) each, resulting in a total net electrical output of 250 MW. The Proposed
Action would be designed to utilize solar parabolic trough technology to generate electricity. Genesis Solar, LLC is seeking a right-of-way (ROW) grant for approximately 4,640 acres of land. Construction and operation of the Proposed Action would disturb a total of about 1,800 acres within the site boundaries, and approximately 90 acres for linear facilities and drainage features outside the site boundaries. The proposed GSEP would be approximately 27 miles east of the unincorporated community of Desert Center and 25 miles west of the Arizona-California border city of Blythe in Riverside County,
California. The Applicant proposes to construct the GSEP in two phases, which
would be designed to generate a combined total of approximately 250 MW of electricity. Phase 1 would consist of the Unit 1 (western) power block, access road, natural gas pipeline, and electric transmission line. Phase 2 would consist of the Unit 2 (eastern) power block. The project would also include above-ground and subsurface fiber optic lines.
The overall site layout and generalized land uses are characterized as follows:
1. 250-MW facility including solar generation facilities; on-site switchyard (substation); administration, operations, and maintenance facilities: approximately 1,800 acres.
2. Two wastewater evaporation ponds: Up to 30 acres each (located within the 1,800-acre site).
3. A new generation-tie line to route generated electrical power transmitted from the GSEP switchyard by way of a southeasterly ROW, that would connect to the Southern California Edison 500-230 kV Colorado River substation via the existing Blythe Energy Project Transmission Line between the Julian Hinds and Buck substations.
4. Additional linear facilities off-site, including a 6.5-mile access road and natural gas pipeline.
5. Surface water control facilities for storm water flow and discharge.
6. Temporary construction laydown area(s) within the larger site footprint. No additional laydown areas outside the project footprint are contemplated.
Access to the site would be via a new 6.5-mile long, 24-foot wide (approximately 18.9 acres) paved access road extending north and west from the existing Wiley's Well Road. Wiley's Well Road is accessible by both eastbound and westbound traffic off Interstate 10 at the Wiley's Well Road Interchange. The new access road would be constructed
entirely on BLM-administered land.
The BLM's purpose and need for the NEPA analysis of the GSEP project is to respond to Genesis Solar, LLC's application under Title V of FLPMA (43 U.S.C. 1761) for a ROW grant to construct, operate, and decommission a solar thermal facility on public lands in compliance with FLPMA, BLM ROW regulations, and other applicable Federal laws. The
BLM will decide whether to approve, approve with modification, or deny a ROW grant to Genesis Solar, LLC for the proposed GSEP project. The BLM will also consider amending the California Desert Conservation Act (CDCA) Plan of 1980, as amended, in this analysis. The CDCA Plan, while recognizing the potential compatibility of solar generation facilities on public lands, requires that all sites associated with power generation or transmission not identified in that Plan be considered through the plan amendment process. If the BLM decides to grant a ROW, the BLM would also amend the CDCA Plan.
In the Final EIS, the BLM's Preferred Alternative is the direct dry cooling project alternative with a 250 nominal MW output which includes a CDCA Plan Amendment. In addition to the Preferred Alternative, the Final EIS analyzes the following alternatives: The proposed action with a 250 nominal MW output, wet-cooling technology and an amendment the CDCA Plan to make the area suitable for solar energy development; a
reduced acreage alternative which includes a 150 nominal MW output, wet cooling technology, and an amendment to the CDCA Plan to make the area suitable for solar energy development; and an amendment to the CDCA Plan without approving any project. As required under NEPA, the Final EIS analyzes a no action alternative, which would not approve the GSEP or amend the CDCA Plan. The BLM also analyzes an alternative that denies the GSEP, but amends the CDCA Plan to designate the project area as suitable for other possible solar energy power generation projects, and an alternative to deny the project and amend the CDCA Plan to designate the project area as unsuitable for solar energy power generation projects. The BLM will take into consideration the provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Secretarial Orders 3283 Enhancing Renewable Energy Development on the Public Lands and 3285A1 Renewable Energy Development by the Department of the Interior in responding to the GSEP application.
The Final EIS evaluates the potential impacts of the proposed GSEP on air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, water resources, geological resources and hazards, land use, noise, paleontological resources, public health, socioeconomics, soils,
traffic and transportation, visual resources, wilderness characteristics, and other resources.
A Notice of Availability of the Draft EIS/Staff Assessment for the proposed GSEP and Possible Plan Amendment to the CDCA Plan was published in the Federal Register on April 9, 2010 (75 FR 18204). Comments on the Draft RMP Amendment/Draft EIS/Staff Assessment received from the public and internal BLM review were considered and
incorporated as appropriate into the Proposed CDCA Plan Amendment/Final EIS. Public comments resulted in the addition of clarifying text and the change in the preferred alternative from wet cooling to dry cooling technology, but did not significantly change proposed land use plan decisions.
Instructions for filing a protest with the Director of the BLM regarding the Proposed CDCA Plan Amendment may be found in the "Dear Reader'' Letter of the Proposed CDCA Plan Amendment/Final EIS and at 43 CFR 1610.5-2. E-mailed and faxed protests will not be accepted as valid protests unless the protesting party also provides the original letter by either regular or overnight mail postmarked by the close of the protest period. Under these conditions, the BLM will consider the e-mail or faxed protest as an advance copy and it will receive full consideration. If you wish to provide the BLM with such advance
notification, please direct faxed protests to the attention of the BLM protest coordinator at (202) 912-7212, and e-mails to Brenda_Hudgens-Williams@blm.gov. All protests, including the follow-up letter to e-mails or faxes, must be in writing and mailed to the appropriate address, as set forth in the ADDRESSES section above. Before including your phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your protest, you should be aware that your entire protest--including your personal identifying information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your protest to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
Energy Commission Gives Preliminary Approval
August 19, 2010 - Sacramento - A California Energy Commission siting committee is
recommending the approval of the planned Genesis Solar Energy Project in Riverside County.
In its presiding member's proposed decision (PMPD) released today, the committee said the proposed 250-megawatt facility, as mitigated, will have significant impacts on the environment. However, the benefits of the project would override those impacts.
Over the past month, the Energy Commission has issued proposed decisions
recommending the approval of more than 2,100 megawatts of solar power, including Genesis Solar Energy Project. The other projects that are recommended to be considered for a license to construct are the 250 MW Abengoa Mojave Solar Project; the 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy Project; the 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project; and the 370 MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System Project.
The PMPD is not a final decision on the project. The committee released the document for 30 days of public comment and will consider input before bringing the proposed decision to the full five-member Commission. The entire document can be found on the Commission's website at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/genesis_solar/documents/
The Genesis Solar Energy Project, is proposed by Genesis Solar LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. The project would be comprised of two 125-megawatt solar units. Electric power would be produced using steam turbine generators fed from solar steam generators. The solar steam generators receive heated transfer fluid from solar thermal equipment comprised of arrays of parabolic mirrors that collect energy from the sun.
The project site is located in Riverside County, California, approximately 25 miles west of Blythe, on lands managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management in the Sonoran Desert. The site would occupy approximately 1,800 acres north of Ford Dry Lake and about four miles north of Interstate 10. If approved by the full Commission, the project
would start construction in the fourth quarter of 2010, with commercial service by the second quarter of 2013.
The federal government and the State of California have established the need for the nation and state to increase the development and use of renewable energy in order to enhance the nation's energy independence, meet environmental goals, and create new economic growth opportunities.
For more information on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Executive Order to advance the state's Renewables Portfolio Standard, go to: http://gov.ca.gov/press-release/13273
More information on the Genesis Solar Energy Project Solar is available at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/sitingcases/genesis_solar/
Cultural Issues Addressed in Video
July 29, 2010 - La Cuna de Aztlán (With Updated Comments By Chemehuevi Tribal Chairman, Charles Wood), video by Robert Lundahl. http://www.vimeo.com/13650564
July 12 and 13, 2010 - Sacramento, California
In Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, there was a big win for the desert: NextEra Energy has refused to propose anything but wet-cooling for its 250-MW parabolic trough solar thermal plant, but at California Energy Commission evidentiary hearings this week it agreed to formally turn to dry-cooling to save pumping groundwater, which CEC argues is actually part of the Colorado River groundwater basin. (See Business Wire)
Genesis agreed to reduce its groundwater use from 1,644 acre-feet per year (afy) in the wet-cooling design, to 202 afy by using dry-cooling.
Disagreement over groundwater models between the three basins regionally went unresolved. The Genesis solar project would dig wells in the Chuckwalla Valley groundwater basin, which communicated to the east with the Palo Verde Mesa groundwater basin, and in turn to the southeast to the Palo Verde Valley groundwater basin along the Colorado River, a large area of irrigation. Genesis contended that the amount of water it would offset should be taken at the Chuckwalla Valley-Palo Verde Mesa boundary, and that an entitlement to adjudicated Colorado River groundwater was not needed at this time. Genesis said this would be a higher level of mitigation.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) agreed with this, but had differing models of groundwater and argued on how to mitigate under the California Environmental Quality Act. They disagreed with the impacts, stressing that the Colorado River was already overdrawn, and that the project would indeed impact the river.
One model showed an outflow of 400 afy from Chuckwalla Valley basin to the Palo Verde basin, and Genesis would mitigate around 50 afy.
^Palo Verde Mesa along the Colorado River, with the McCoy Mountains behind, just north of Blythe, California.
When the project pumps 202 afy, the applicant admitted that there will be some increase of inflow as the well draws in water, and this will be noticed in the western Chuckwalla Valley and the tributary to the north. This will result in less flow (estimated to be approximately 52 afy) to the east, to Palo Verde Mesa.
Construction water use for three years was incorporated into their model, according to Genesis. After three years there would be 9 afy less flow east from Chuckwalla Valley groundwater basin east to Palo Verde basin; after 5 years this would increase to 29 afy, and at 33 years it would amount to 52 afy. It was assumed that no recharge occurred in the Chuckwalla Valley basin. The drawdown would take some time to propagate to the Chuckwalla Valley-Palo Verde Mesa boundary. The applicant did no modeling in the Palo Verde Mesa basin, but predicted a "very slight" lowering of the water table there.
Impacts would hit in the areas of subsidence, water quality, the local well-owner's ability to use the well, and impacts to biological resources. Genesis concluded these would not be significant to the Palo Verde Mesa area.
After the 30 or so year lifespan of the solar project, recovery of the groundwater might take 5-6 years after cessation of pumping, mirroring the initial drawdown. CEC recommended including recovery recharge in the model, and as part of their Conditions of Certification.