Thursday, July 10, 2014

EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is Under Way for Thousands of Future Solar Acres of Land in Lancaster and Los Angeles County

The Lancaster City officials recently authorized an environmental impact report on a proposal to install solar panels on 1,350 to 1,500 acres in west Lancaster. The Sustainable Power Group (sPower) (formerly Silverado Power, LLC) has filed a conditional use permit (CUP 14-10) for the development of 250 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic solar Power on approximately 1,500 acres. Due to the size of the proposed project, the preparation of an EIR is required as part of the approval process. Lancaster Planning Dept. on May 27, 2014 had a request for proposals (RFP) for the preparation of an EIR for the proposed project was sent out for consideration to 12 environmental consulting firms. Seven proposals were submitted to the City by the deadline of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Staff and the developer have reviewed the consultant proposals, and staff is recommending that the City retain the services of Stantec to prepare the EIR. Stantec will prepare the environmental impact report at a cost of more than $246,000. The cost would be paid by the Sustainable Power Group, which also would be required to pay a $25,000 deposit to cover city administrative costs. A recent article by the AV Press indicated that the 250-megawatt project is the largest ever proposed within city limits, though other larger solar plants have been approved elsewhere in the Antelope Valley. The planned solar area is generally bounded by 80th and 105th streets west, Columbia Way (Avenue M) and Avenue K-4. Just last month sPower Group received approval from Los Angeles County planners for six solar power fields proposed to cover nearly 1,000 acres around Antelope Acres and west of Lancaster. This 1500 acre Lancaster Solar Project is similar to the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One which was approved for 230 megawatts on 2,100 acres at Avenue D and 170th Street West. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's has a 579-megawatt Solar Star development is 3,230 acres straddling the Kern County-Los Angeles County line between 110th and 190th streets west. The Silverado Power/Sustainable Power Group projects approved last month by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission are proposed on Avenue B east of 110th Street West (20 megawatts, 240 acres), Avenue K west of 110th Street West (40 megawatts, 157 acres), Avenue G west of 70th Street West (35 megawatts, 135 acres), Avenue I west of 112th Street West (20 megawatts, 160 acres), Avenue D at 35th Street West (5 megawatts, 38 acres), and between avenues J to H-8 between 85th and 97th streets west (52 megawatts, 256 acres). In giving their approval, county planners attached a condition to the project at Avenue J and 85th Street West that requires the developer to provide an air filtration system for the adjacent Summerhaven Ranch All-Nations Retreat Center prior to construction. A condition was added to the project on Avenue K west of 110th Street West that requires the developer to dedicate one-third of the site as permanent open space. The Antelope Valley is quickly becoming the Solar Capital of the US. This bodes well for land owners on Lancaster’s West side. Buy land and wait still holds true in Los Angeles County.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Silverado Power Advancing the RAM Program

The California Public Utilities Commission created Renewable Auction Mechanism RAM program to drive utilities to procure more distributed renewable energy generation projects of twenty megawatts or less as part of the States 33% by 2020 plan. The RAM program established a regulated auction in which developers bid to sell at their lowest price and, because projects rely largely on existing transmission and distribution infrastructure. This has created numerous smaller solar projects. Silverado Power (SP) have won power purchase agreements (PPAs) with California utilities Southern California Edison (SCE). Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) in RAM auctions. These six new solar PV projects amount to a total of 41 megawatts. They have projects in San Bernardino County called Expressway A and Expressway B, each with two megawatts co-located in Victorville, CA. Also co-located in Victorville are Victor Mesa Linda A, a two-megawatt project with an SCE PPA, and Victor Mesa Linda B, a five-megawatt project with an SDG&E PPA. The Lancaster projects are Western Antelope Blue Sky A at 110th West at K on 157 acres, Western Antelope Dry Ranch 256 acres at 90th West and J. They also have American Solar Greenworks 70th West at G on 135 acres, Lancaster WAD 35th West and D using 40 acres, North Lancaster Ranch 105th West at B on 80 acres, and Silver Sun Greenworks at 120th West and I on 80 acres. This is part of Silverado’s plan to develop lots of solar with a low profile, so this could be the beginning of what could be a new trend in solar development. They indicate that they are creating smaller project to help minimize the impact on the local communities and environment. They estimate they need 5 to 7 acres per megawatt according to reports. They expect to create 200 jobs via these projects and construction running through 2016.