Meeting the energy needs of Southern California
Soda Mountain Solar
The Soda Mountain Solar Project is a 287 megawatt solar photovoltaic power generating facility located in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County in California, a location that has more annual sunlight hours than almost any other region of the United States.
This renewable power project will help achieve critical federal and California state policy goals with respect to reducing emissions of harmful greenhouse gases in an environmentally benign way.
The 1767-acre project site, located on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, occupies a portion of a flat, alluvial valley between the North and the South Soda Mountains. The geographic location this valley has made it a favored corridor for power transmission lines, pipelines, communications systems and vehicular transportation. Eight such infrastructure elements, including interstate highway I-15, and their accompanying access roads and related facilities currently run through the valley. The federal government has designated the valley as a Section 368 Energy Corridor which means it is a preferred route for future pipelines and electric power transmission lines. The XpressWest high-speed train will pass through the valley.
The project site’s high number of annual sunlight hours, flat terrain, proximity to high voltage electric transmission lines, access to a major interstate highway, and its already disturbed condition make it a particularly suitable location for a solar energy project. The project will deliver power to an adjacent 500KV transmission line with adequate capacity to accept the power from the project without requiring any new transmission lines or upgrades, an unusual feature for a renewable power project of this size.
The multiple studies and site surveys conducted for the project over seven years demonstrate that compared to the sites which have been approved for other solar projects and the areas designated as Solar Energy Zones, the site is almost unique with respect to the non-existence of special status plants and the virtual non-existence of endangered species.
The project received its federal approval in March of 2016 and construction is expected to start in 2018.
“Soda Mountain is another step forward toward diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio and meeting the State of California’s growing demand for renewable energy. The project is consistent with the BLM’s landscape approach for the California desert, which supports careful development of renewable energy where it makes sense while protecting the resources and places that make the desert special.”Neil Kornze