Superstition Solar Project
April 26, 2010 - Westmorland, Imperial County
A 500 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic power plant is proposed by Sun Peak Solar LLC, on 5,516 acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The project would be west of Highway 78, and 5 miles northwest of the town of Westmorland.
The solar array would consist of fixed frame photovoltaic panels mounted on post fittings a minimum of 7 feet above the ground, secured by guy wires. The project would also include an operations and maintenance facility, substation, transformers, transmission lines, access roads, a groundwater production well, and a 10-acre temporary construction yard.
Each fixed frame with solar panels is termed a solar "barn." Each barn would be 60 feet by 180 feet, with 486 interconnected PV panels, each yielding 110 (kilowatts) kW of electricity. The entire project would have 7,165 solar barns.
Set-up transformers would be set up on the north side of selected solar barn frames, on every 10 to 20 solar barns. The transformers raise the voltage of the electricity produced by the PV panels to 34.5 kilovolts (kV). Transmission lines would carry electricity from the transformers to the substation.
The 2.3-acre substation has transformers to raise the electricity to the interconnect voltage. The new substation would be 500 by 200 feet. The substation would be fenced, and during construction the area would be cleared of all vegetation, and the soil compacted, sterilized, and covered with washed crushed rock.
The operations and maintenance facility would occupy 2 acres, and consist of a 2,000-square-foot steel building, storage area, parking area, and groundwater well. This area would be fenced off with a chain link fence.
54 acres of primary access roads would include perimeter access roads and internal access roads. Internal access roads would generally run along section lines. They would be graded and covered with gravel. 350 acres of secondary access roads will provide access to the PV panels, and would lie between every other row of solar barns, 8 feet wide, ungraded.
The approximate area of the solar barns would be about 1,773 acres, which is the area that would be shaded by the panels. The actual ground disturbance would be less, 413.5 acres, caused by the footings and guy wires. Total disturbance would be 2,186.5 acres.
The description states, "The PV panels will accumulate dust and will require washing. Environmental conditions (e.g. wind, precipitation, etc.) will determine the frequency of panel washing. It is expected that the panels will be washed weekly during the summer and monthly during the winter."
Water will be applied to the secondary dirt roads as necessary, and the applicant anticipates that they will not be driven on frequently. "Vegetation on secondary roads will be crushed as needed to maintain navigability on these roads."
During operations, an estimated 10 "full-time equivalent workers will be employed."
Source: letter received April 26, 2010 by Imperial County Planning and Development Services.
Flat-tailed Horned Lizard Habitat
Various solar and wind proposals are shown in purple outline, including Superstition PV project south of the Salton Sea. Solid yellow areas are Flat-tailed horned lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii) observations. Dotted black areas are Flat-tailed horned lizard Conservation Areas.
^Map of the Superstition Solar Project area south of Salton Sea (southern edge cut off).
^Northern project area.
^Western edge of project.
^Northeast part of project.
^Detail of solar panel array.