[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 129 (Wednesday, July 8, 2009)]
[Pages 32641-32642]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-15974]



Bureau of Land Management

[LLAZP02000.L51010000.ER0000.LVRWA09A2400; AZA-34187]

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for 
the Proposed Sonoran Solar Energy Project, Maricopa County, AZ

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of Intent.


SUMMARY: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Phoenix District Office, 
Lower Sonoran Field Office intends to prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) to address potential effects of a proposed solar energy 
project by Boulevard Associates, LLC and by this notice is announcing 
the beginning of the scoping process and soliciting input on the 
identification of issues.

DATES: The BLM will announce public scoping meetings to identify 
relevant issues through news media, newspapers, and BLM's Web site 
(http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en.html) at least 15 days prior to each 
meeting. We will provide additional opportunities for public 
participation upon publication of the Draft EIS, including a 45-day 
public comment period.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by either of the following 
     Mail: Sonoran Solar Energy Project,
     ATTN: Joe Incardine, National Project Manager, BLM Phoenix 
District Office, Lower Sonoran Field Office, 21605 North 7th Avenue, 
Phoenix, Arizona 85027-2929.
     Electronic Mail: sonoransolar@blm.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information regarding the BLM 
process or to have your name added to the mailing list, send requests 
to: ATTN: Sonoran Solar Energy Project, BLM Phoenix District Office, 
Lower Sonoran Field Office, 21605 North 7th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 
85027-2929, or call Joe Incardine, 801-524-3833, or e-mail: Joe_Incardine@blm.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of the public scoping process is 
to determine relevant issues that will influence the scope of the 
environmental analysis, including alternatives, and guide the planning 
process. Boulevard Associates, LLC has applied to BLM for a right of 
way (ROW) on public lands to construct a concentrated solar thermal 
(CST) power plant, a 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line, water supply 
facilities, a natural gas pipeline, an access road, and other related 
facilities in the Little Rainbow Valley, east of State Route 85, and 
south of the Buckeye Hills and the town of Buckeye in Maricopa County, 
Arizona. The facility would be expected to operate for approximately 30 
years. A ROW grant for the construction, operation, and maintenance of 
this Project would be required from BLM. Additional applicable permits 
from Federal, State and local agencies may also be required.
    Boulevard Associates, LLC would construct up to 375 megawatts (MW) 
of solar thermal electrical generation with options for natural gas 
backup and/or thermal storage capabilities. The solar facility would 
consist of solar fields made up of single-axis-tracking parabolic 
trough solar collectors. Each collector contains a linear parabolic-
shaped reflector (glass mirrors) that focuses the sun's direct 
radiation on a heat collection element located at the focal point of 
the parabola. The collectors would track the sun from east to west 
during the day to ensure the sun is continuously focused on the linear 
receiver. A heat transfer fluid would be heated as it passes through 
the receivers and then circulated through a series of heat exchangers 
to generate high-pressure superheated steam. The steam would power a 
conventional steam turbine generator which produces electricity. The 
plant would be made up of one or more power blocks. Each power block 
would be located near the center of its respective solar field and 
would contain multiple feedwater heaters, steam generators, steam 
superheaters, and feedwater pumps.
    To optimize the output capacity of the project, both natural gas 
backup and/or thermal energy storage would be used as needed. Natural 
gas backup would include the addition of a partial or full load burner 
arrangement that would generate additional steam when solar energy is 
absent or insufficient by itself. Annual output from natural gas would 
be limited to 25 percent of annual capacity to ensure that the plant 
remains predominantly a solar powered facility. Thermal energy storage 
would provide the option of transferring some or all of the solar 
energy into molten salt contained in insulated tanks. Using heat 
exchangers and pumps designed for

[[Page 32642]]

molten salt, the heat could later be extracted to provide generation 
when the demand for power exceeds the available generation from solar 
energy, essentially time shifting the solar power to respond to 
electric demands.
    Wet cooling technology would be used for cooling the power 
generating equipment. Recirculating wet cooling systems use about 6 to 
13 acre-feet per year per MW for a system with 3 hours of thermal 
storage. A mechanical draft cooling tower, cooling water circulating 
pumps, circulating water piping, valves, and instrumentation would also 
be located within the facility. Multiple evaporation ponds would be 
constructed to hold discharge from the cooling towers and steam cycle 
that can no longer be recycled back into the plant.
    The Project would be connected to the electrical grid using a newly 
constructed, 3 to 4 mile, 500 kV generation tie-line with a point of 
interconnection at the existing Jojoba Substation, west of the proposed 
Project site and operated by the Salt River Project. If any upgrades 
would be required to the Jojoba Substation as a result of this Project, 
those upgrades would be included in the EIS analysis and ROW grant. The 
new transmission line and other related facilities that would be 
developed specifically for this Project would be included in the EIS 
analysis and included in the ROW grant as appropriate.
    The EIS for the Project will analyze the site-specific impacts 
related to air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, water 
resources, geological resources and hazards, and hazardous materials 
handling. The EIS will also analyze land use, noise, paleontological 
resources, socioeconomics, soils, traffic and transportation, visual 
resources, waste management, wildlife corridors, health and human 
safety, and fire protection. Additionally, information on facility 
design engineering, efficiency, reliability, transmission system 
engineering and transmission line safety and nuisance will be included 
in the EIS. Native American Tribal consultations will be conducted in 
accordance with policy, and Tribal concerns will be given due 
consideration, including impacts on Indian trust assets. It is 
anticipated that the EIS process will be completed by December 2010.
    To be most helpful, you should submit comments within 30 days after 
the last public meeting. Before including your address, phone number, 
e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your 
comment, you should be aware that your entire comment--including your 
personal identifying information--may be made publicly available at any 
time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from the public review, we cannot guarantee 
that we will be able to do so.
    If the ROW were to be approved by BLM, the concentrated solar 
thermal power plant facility on public lands would be authorized in 
accordance with Title V of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
of 1976 and the Federal Regulations at 43 CFR part 2800.

(Authority: 43 CFR part 2800)

Helen M. Hankins,
Acting State Director.
[FR Doc. E9-15974 Filed 7-7-09; 8:45 am]