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Another mega solar plant nearing approval in California

December 20, 2012|By Julie Cart
  • Solar power projects, such as this one on a Fontana rooftop, are growing in number and scope; the Department of Interior on Thursday released an environmental impact statement on a proposed 750-megawatt plant in Riverside County.
Solar power projects, such as this one on a Fontana rooftop, are growing… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

The Department of Interior on Thursday moved a step closer to approving what could be the world’s largest solar power plant,  releasing the final environmental impact statement for the  McCoy Solar facility, a proposed 750-megawatt photovoltaic plant in Riverside County.

Secretary Ken Salazar announced the preferred alternative, which calls for scaling back the project’s 4,400–acre footprint to accommodate the federally threatened Mojave Desert tortoise.

The McCoy plant is projected to produce 750 megawatts of power, making it the second-largest solar plant in the world.  That distinction, however, is in dispute. The federal Bureau of Land Management approved the 1,000-megawatt Blythe Solar project, but the developer declared bankruptcy in April.

NextEra Energy, which owns the McCoy project, has purchased the rights to the Blythe project, although it has yet to file a revised development plan.

If approved, the McCoy project will join 34 renewable-energy projects on public lands that have been fast-tracked by the Obama administration.

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