Major Solar Facility Approved for Desert East of Coachella Valley

Major Solar Facility Approved for Desert East of Coachella Valley

News Staff

A solar facility set to occupy more than 3,000 acres east of the Coachella Valley has received final approval from the federal government, the Bureau of Land Management said Thursday.

The 500-megawatt Palen Solar Project is slated for construction about 10 miles east of Desert Center, north of Interstate 10, according to the BLM, which said the facility was expected to provide power to about 130,000 homes and employ more than 1,000 workers during the peak of the project’s construction.

The $1 billion project will trigger “$67.3 million in annual indirect economic benefit during construction,” the BLM claims, though environmental groups have opposed the project, alleging the facility’s construction will disrupt habitats for local wildlife.

“President Trump and (Interior) Secretary (Ryan) Zinke have called for an all-of-the-above energy strategy that will ensure America’s energy security, while also strengthening our infrastructure in support of the economy,” Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Joseph Balash said. “The Palen Solar Project will provide benefits to the local community and the region both now and in the future, demonstrating the critical role multiple-use public lands play for the BLM’s neighbors and the nation as a whole.”

EDF Renewable Energy, the company behind the Palen project, said the project was expected to take about two-and-a-half years to construct.