BLYTHE, CA — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. today joined local officials and representatives from Solar Trust America at a ceremony launching the start of construction on what will be the world’s largest solar power facility. Located on public lands in eastern Riverside County, the Blythe Solar Power Project will generate 1,000 megawatts, enough electricity to power 300,000-750,000 homes when fully operational. The project will be built in two phases or 500 megawatts each. Each 500 MW phase of the project will provide 1,000 construction jobs per year, up to 3,000 supply chain and related jobs, and 220 permanent jobs.
Joined also by California Resources Secretary John Laird and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey, Secretary Salazar said the project would not have become a reality without unprecedented federal and state cooperation and strong support from the local community.
“Breaking ground on what will be the world’s largest solar power project is a major milestone in our nation’s renewable energy economy and shows that the United States intends to compete and lead in the technologies of the future,” Salazar said. “This project shows in a real way how harnessing our own renewable resources can create good jobs here at home and contribute to our nation’s energy security.”
“It makes sense to power California with renewable wind and solar energy that protects clean air and water and promotes energy independence,” Governor Brown said. “Renewable energy projects also stimulate business investment in California and create thousands of new jobs.”
“Renewable energy is no longer a part of America’s future – it is our present,” said Director Abbey. “This project will put more than a thousand people to work out here in Blythe during construction and will create almost 300 permanent jobs. This project is great news for the local economy and will help make believers out of skeptics as we take an important step forward in our nation’s march toward a clean energy future.”
“The Blythe Solar Power Project is the first solar power facility to enter into the realm of truly utility-scale power plants,” said Uwe T. Schmidt, chairman and CEO, Solar Trust of America. “Today marks the beginning of a new era for the solar industry, for Solar Trust of America, and for the City of Blythe, California.”
Part of the Administration’s effort to encourage a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewable energy on public lands, the Blythe Solar Power Project has undergone extensive environmental review and mitigation efforts. As part of the Record of Decision issued in October, the BLM is requiring that Solar Millennium provide funding for more than 8,000 acres of desert tortoise, western burrowing owl, bighorn sheep and Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat to mitigate the project’s impacts.
The Blythe Solar Power Project uses parabolic trough technology where rows of parabolic mirrors focus solar energy on collector tubes. The tubes carry heated oil to a boiler, which sends live steam to a turbine to produce electricity. A new 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission line will be constructed to connect the project to the Devers-Palo Verde #2 500 kV line at the Colorado River substation