Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on December 20, 2011, announced his approval of the 300-megawatt Sonoran Solar Energy Project to be built on BLM land in Maricopa County, Arizona.
The land is southwest of Phoenix in the Little Rainbow Valley, east of State Route 85, and south of the Town of Buckeye in Maricopa County.
Approval of the right of way means that Boulevard Associates, LLC, can use 2,013 acres of BLM land to install photovoltaic (PV) mirrors and ancillary structures and transmission lines. The right of way is for 30 years. Boulevard Associates is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC.
Construction has not begun because Boulevard has not secured a power purchase agreement.
The granting of a right of way is the culmination of an evaluation process that began in 2009. The BLM prepared an environmental impact statement, in which the project and its effect on public lands and the community were evaluated.
Boulevard Associates’ original proposal was to use concentrated solar thermal (CST) technology with options for natural gas backup and thermal storage capabilities. The BLM modified the evaluation to include a PV alternative as part of its consideration of low-water-use technology. The PV technology was designated as the BLM’s Preferred Alternative. It was that alternative that was approved in the record of decision granting the right of way.
With the use of PV technology, Sonoran Solar Energy Project will use much less water than the CST option would have required. The project will require 33 acre/feet of water (10.8 million gallons) a year. The original proposal would have required up to 3,000 acre/feet of water (977.6 million gallons) a year.
BLM Phoenix District Office
Sonoran Solar Energy Project
ATTN: Joe Incardine
21605 N 7th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85027