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EIS-0439: Final Environmental Impact Statement

Rice Solar Energy Project, Riverside County, CA

Abstract: In response to a request from Rice Solar Energy LLC (RSE), Western Area Power Administration (Western) proposes to provide transmission interconnection services for the Rice Solar Energy Project (RSEP), a proposed 150-megawatt (MW) solar electric power plant located on previously disturbed private land. Because the proposed Project’s new generator tie-line, electric substation, and access road would be located on public lands, RSE is also seeking United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approval of an amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan (CDCA Plan) to designate a new corridor for a 161-kV transmission line, which would facilitate the development of solar energy on private lands. The BLM would authorize a right‐of‐way (ROW) grant to lease approximately 12 acres of land needed for the transmission facilities. Finally, RSE has filed an application with the Department Of Energy (DOE) Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) seeking a loan guarantee for the proposed Project. The proposed RSEP will help meet the explicit policy goals of the State of California to produce 33 percent of the state’s electricity by renewable sources by 2020, and the Federal goals of producing 10 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025. The alternatives analysis included alternative power generation technologies and alternative sites. The Preferred Alternative is in an undeveloped area of the Sonoran Desert in eastern Riverside County, California, near State Route 62, approximately 40 miles northwest of Blythe, California, and 15 miles west of Vidal Junction, California. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has jurisdiction over siting thermal power plants of 50 megawatts or larger and their related support facilities. Through its licensing process, the CEC issued a license for construction and operation of the RSEP on December 15, 2010.