Solar Being Built in Riverside County

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has gone ahead and approved the Blythe Mesa Solar project in California. The 485-megawatt photovoltaic, facility will be built in Riverside County and will produce enough energy to power more than 145,000 homes, as part of a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and create jobs. It is the 57th project approved by the dept. of the Interior since 2009, and is one of the largest solar energy projects approved by the BLM to date. Of the 57 projects, 34 are solar, 11 are wind and 12 geothermal. 13 of these are already functioning. All told the projects are supposed to create over 26,000 jobs, and produce 15,000 megawatts of electricity. Enough electricity will be produced to power 5 million homes.

The Blythe mesa project will be constructed on private land under the jurisdiction of the city of Blythe and the county of Riverside. It will connect with the Colorado Substation in the county. The worlds largest solar project, the Desert Sunlight, in the town of Desert Center, Calif., in Riverside County, opened in February of 2015, near Joshua Tree National Park. The 550-megawatt facility is expected to generate enough electricity to power 160,000 average sized homes. Desert Sunlight received a $1.5 billion federal loan for the project. The Department of Energy said that they expect to make a $5 to $6 billion profit from the program

Desert Sunlight is the world’s largest solar power plant. Second is the Topaz solar project in San Luis Obispo County, Ca. also has a capacity of 550 megawatts. But the desert has more sunlight than San Luis Obispo County, so Desert Sunlight is expected to generate more electricity than Topaz. Power generated from the Desert Sunlight plant will go to Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved permits for the McCoy Solar Energy, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources Project. The first since the enactment of the county’s solar power plant policy. This policy requires developers of projects over 20 megawatts to pay the county $150 per acre. This figure will be adjusted to inflation.

The first phase of the 750-megawatt photovoltaic project could bring the County of Riverside as much as $14 million over the next 30 years and the project’s sales and user taxes will be allocated to the county. This amount would increase substantially depending on when the second phase is built. The total solar power plant net acreage is expected to be 4,442 acres. The project will be built on Bureau of Land Management land approximately 13 miles northwest of Blythe.  The first phase of the project, began construction in late 2014. The project would employ approximately 341 construction workers over a 4-year period and close to 600 workers at the peak of construction. Once opened, it will employ about 20 full-time employees.

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