The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public comment on a proposal as it evaluates the impacts of seven large-scale solar-plus-storage projects called Esmeralda 7.
The seven solar installations are to be located near Tonopah in central Nevada and are expected to generate a total of up to 5.3 GW of electricity, or enough to power approximately 4 million households. In a state that currently has just over 5 GW of solar energy installations, these seven sites would move it far closer to achieving its renewable portfolio standard goal of 50% by 2030.
According to the project description, the location provides a large, flat portion of land suitable for solar development near the proposed NV Energy GreenLink Transmission Line as well as the Esmeralda substation. Using the BLM Solar Energy Environmental Mapper, the land is identified as available solar variance land with strong solar potential. The project description includes decommissioning plans and states that it will will have minimal impact on residents as it is located in a rural area more than 24 miles from the nearest population center in Tonopah and approximately 13 miles from the town of Silver Peak.
The Energy Act of 2020 aims to deploy 25 GW of solar, wind, and geothermal on public lands no later than 2025, as such deployment is integral to meeting the nation’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, as well as Congress’ direction in the Energy Act of 2020 to permit 25 gigawatts of solar.
“The effort is a high priority for BLM Nevada and will be a significant source of renewable energy in support of reaching the country’s clean energy goals,” said Doug Furtado, district manager of Battle Mountain. “I am very proud of the work each of these companies have done working together with my staff to ensure a timely and efficient permitting process for the E7 Solar Projects and we look forward to hearing public comment on the proposal.”
The seven projects are:
- Esmeralda Energy Center Project, proposed by Boulevard Associates LLC;
- Gold Dust Solar Project, proposed by Gold Dust Solar LLC;
- Lone Mountain Solar Project, proposed by Lone Mountain Solar LLC;
- Nivloc Energy Project, proposed by Nivloc Solar LLC;
- Red Ridge 1 Project, proposed by 335ES 8me LLC;
- Red Ridge 2 Project, proposed by 336SP 8me LLC; and
- Smoky Valley Solar Project, proposed by CG Western Renewables III LLC.
The Proposed Project is intended to be constructed in a single phase, although it may be developed in multiple phases depending on power purchase agreements. If constructed all at once, it is expected to take 24 months. A Notice of Intent is expected to be published in the Federal Register next week to open a 30-day public comment period. More information, including maps, planning documents, how to register for virtual public scoping meetings, and instructions on how to submit scoping comments are available at the BLM National NEPA Register.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, with potential to make significant contributions to the nation’s renewable energy portfolio. To promote development of these energy sources, BLM provides sites for environmentally sound development of clean energy on public lands.
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