Western Area Power Administration (Western), an agency within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), received a request from Quartzsite Solar Energy, LLC (QSE) to interconnect its proposed Quartzsite Solar Energy Project (Project) to Western's Bouse-Kofa 161-kilovolt (kV) transmission line.
The proposed Project site is in an undeveloped area in La Paz County, Arizona, east of State Route (SR) 95, approximately 10 miles north of Quartzsite, Arizona, on lands administered by the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
On December 21, 2012, the Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Yuma Field Office (Yuma) Proposed Resource Management Plan Amendment (PRMPA) for Quartzsite Solar Energy Project was published in the (). After considering the environmental impacts, Western has decided to allow QSE's request for interconnection to Western's transmission system on the Bouse-Kofa 161-kV transmission line and to construct, own, and operate a new switchyard and its associated communication pathway.
The proposed Project is a 100-megawatt solar electric power plant that would use concentrating solar power technology to capture the sun's heat to make steam, which would power a traditional steam turbine generator. The proposed Project would contain the central receiver or tower, a solar field consisting of mirrors or heliostats to reflect the sun's energy to the central tower, a conventional steam turbine generator, insulated storage tanks for hot and cold liquid salt, ancillary tanks, evaporation ponds, a temporary construction laydown area, technical and non-technical buildings, transformers and a 161/230-kV electrical switchyard, roads, and water wells. All components of the proposed Project would be located on BLM-administered land. A new 1.5-mile long 161/230-kV generation tie line would extend from the southern boundary of the solar facility boundary to a new switchyard to be constructed adjacent to Western's existing Bouse-Kofa 161-kV transmission line.
Western is a Federal agency under the DOE that markets and transmits wholesale electrical power through an integrated 17,000-circuit mile, high-voltage transmission system across 15 western states. Western's Open Access Transmission Service Tariff (Tariff) provides open access to its electric transmission system. In reviewing interconnection requests, Western must ensure that existing reliability and service is not degraded. Western's Large Generator Interconnection Procedures provide for transmission and system studies to ensure that system reliability and service to existing customers are not adversely affected by new interconnections.
In compliance with the NEPA, as amended, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as amended, Western as lead agency, with the BLM as a cooperating agency, prepared and released the Draft EIS/PRMPA on November 10, 2011, and subsequently held public hearings on the document in Yuma, Arizona, on December 13, 2011, and in Quartzsite, Arizona, on December 14, 2011. Following the release of the Draft EIS/PRMPA, Western and the BLM prepared a Final EIS/PRMPA which was released on December 21, 2012 (). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Army Garrison-Yuma Proving Ground, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) were also cooperating agencies.
Western's decision is to allow QSE's request for interconnection to Western's transmission system at its Bouse-Kofa 161-kV transmission line and to construct, own and operate a new switchyard, which now goes to BLM for approval. Western's decision to grant this interconnection request satisfies the agency's statutory mission and QSE's objectives while minimizing harm to the environment.