Campo Verde Solar Project Approved by Supervisors

By Mario Conde

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors approved the Campo Verde Solar Project at a meeting held Monday.

The Campo Verde projected approved by the Board is expected to start construction very soon and be completed in 2013, creating about 250 construction jobs. San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) will purchase the project’s output under a 20-year power purchase agreement, which was approved on May 24, 2012 by the California Public Utilities Commission.

First Solar said they will construct the project using its advanced thin film PV modules that generate clean, renewable energy with no emissions, waste or water consumption during operation. The project will generate enough electricity to power approximately 50,000 average California homes, displacing 80,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 15,000 cars off the road.

The County Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the project a couple of weeks ago and  send it to the Board for its full approval.

County Planning Director, Armando Villa, told the board that the construction and operation of the Campo Verde solar project will require the transmission of this generated electricity to the Imperial Valley Substation located south southwest of the project area. A proposed gen-tie with a height limit not to exceed 145 feet will be needed to carry this generated electricity from the project area thru BLM lands to the Imperial Valley Substation.

The project was presented and discussed at the County’s Airport Land Use Commission meetin on February of this year. The Land Use Commission reviewed the proposed application, including the variance for transmission tower height described in subsection 1.2 of the Draft Environmental Impact Report. The Commission found the proposed consistent with the 1996 Airport land use compatibility plan with no conditions. An environmental impact report was completed with mitigation measures that reduced all significant level of impact.

The Bureau of Land Management has reviewed the project area and they are in the process of completing an Environmental Assessment that requires the Campo Verde project, on the BLM portion of the project, to mitigate all impacts to less than significant level of impact.

There was little opposition to the project and the Board of Supervisors approved the project with a vote of 5-0.