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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 355

BLM official tours California energy sites

Mike Nedd, BLM Assistant Director for Minerals and Realty Management participated in a tour of energy-related facilities and engaged in a discussion of energy issues faced by BLM California last week. The trip was arranged by the California State Office, and hosted by Richard Grabowski, Deputy State Director for Energy and Minerals. On Tuesday morning, Bakersfield Field Manager Tim Smith served as the host for a visit to the Edison Sunrise power plant. The Sunrise plant, which uses natural gas to generate a maximum of 584 megawatts (MW) of electricity, is located on private land, but the plant’s 2001 approval included federal rights-of-way for both a natural gas pipeline and a 500 kV transmission line.

The group tours Edison’s Sunrise Electric Power Plant, north of Taft, California
The group visits the Edison Sunrise power plant

Later in the afternoon, the group visited BLM’s “Section 22” oil lease in the Midway-Sunset Oilfield to discuss the award-winning Bakersfield Field Office strategy for permitting, and inspection and enforcement activities in the oilfields located in the southern San Joaquin valley.  The day concluded with a trip to the crest of Crocker Grade for a discussion of the contrast between the oilfields and the Carrizo Plain National Monument with monument manager, Johna Hurl. 

Departing Bakersfield on Wednesday morning, the group traveled to meet with wind energy developers at the Oak Creek Energy facilities on private land near Tehachapi, California. Linda Parker, Executive Director of the Kern Wind Energy Association spoke with the BLM participants regarding the future plans for expansion from the current 750 MW to planned totals of up to 6500 MW of wind energy development in the Tehachapi area. Also joining the tour on Wednesday was Greg Miller, BLM Renewable Energy Program Manager from the California Desert District Office in Riverside. The entire group was fascinated by a tour of the massive new 3 MW turbines which stand a remarkable 411 feet high.

3-megawatt wind turbines at Oak Creek Energy wind farm outside of Tehachapi, California. All of the power from this facility is sold to the nearby California Portland Cement plant in a unique “behind the grid” agreement.  A pickup truck (at the base of the turbine on the left) is dwarfed by one of the new 3-megawatt turbines
A pickup truck is dwarfed by a new 3-megawatt wind turbine

The group then traveled to Kramer Junction to visit the solar energy facility operated by FPL Energy on private land, which provides roughly 310 MW of electricity to Southern California Edison. Mike Nedd met with Barstow Field Manager, Roxie Trost, and Assistant Field Manager for Lands and Realty, Mickey Quillman at the site. FPL’s Solar Energy Generating System (SEGS) installation in the Mojave Desert of California is currently the largest solar energy facility in the United States with approximately 900,000 mirrors situated on more than 1500 acres of private land. BLM California is currently reviewing applications for nearly 80,000 MW of additional solar energy facilities, primarily to be located in the southeastern corner of the state.

Solar mirrors at SEGS VII. This facility has been in nearly continuous operation since 1986. California solar energy currently provides electricity to nearly 250,000 homes.
Solar mirrors gleam in the sun amidst the desert surroundings

On the final day of the tour, Ridgecrest Field Manager, Hector Villalobos provided Mike with an overview of the challenges resulting from energy proposals in the area. The group traveled to the China Lake Naval Weapons center to meet with David Meade, reservoir engineer with the Geothermal Program Office, U.S. Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake. After an extensive tour of the Coso Geothermal Field, the group then travelled northward on Highway 395 to the Mammoth Pacific Geothermal Facility, just outside the city of Mammoth Lakes, California. At the plant, Mike met with facility manager Larry Nickerson, Acting Bishop Field Manager, Joe Polini, and field geologist Cheryl Seath.

Mike Nedd (center) with Mammoth Pacific facility manager Larry Nickerson and BLM geologist Cheryl Seath.
Mike Nedd (center) with Mammoth Pacific facility manager Larry Nickerson and BLM geologist Cheryl Seath.

- James Haerter, 10/08

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 355

Last updated: 10-30-2008