[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 249 (Friday, December 28, 2012)]
[Pages 76477-76479]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-31171]



Western Area Power Administration


Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact 
Statement for the Quartzsite Solar Energy Project and the Yuma Field 
Office Proposed Resource Management Plan Amendment

AGENCY: Western Area Power Administration, DOE.

ACTION: Notice of Availability.


SUMMARY: Quartzsite Solar Energy (QSE) has requested to interconnect 
the Quartzsite Solar Energy Project (Project), a proposed 100-megawatt 
(MW) concentrating solar power plant, to Western Area Power 
Administration's (Western) Bouse-Kofa 161-kilovolt (kV) transmission 
line. QSE has submitted a right-of-way (ROW) application to the Bureau 
of Land Management (BLM) for the Project facility to be constructed on 
a total of approximately 1,675 acres of land managed by the BLM. The 
Project area is in an undeveloped area of the Sonoran Desert in La Paz 
County, Arizona.
    In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 
1969, as amended, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act 
(FLPMA) of 1976, as amended, Western and the BLM prepared a Final 
Environmental Impact Statement \1\ (EIS) and Yuma Field Office (Yuma) 
Proposed Resource Management Plan Amendment (PRMPA) for the Project, 
and by this Notice Western and the BLM are announcing the availability 
of the Final EIS/PRMPA. Western is the lead Federal agency for purposes 
of satisfying the NEPA requirements with the BLM acting as a 
cooperating agency.

    \1\ On November 16, 2011, DOE's Acting General Counsel delegated 
to Western's Administrator all the authorities of the General 
Counsel respecting environmental impact statements.

DATES: The Final EIS/PRMPA will be available for a 30-day period prior 
to the agencies making decisions on the Project and issuing separate 
Records of Decision. The BLM planning regulations state that any person 
who meets the conditions as described in the regulations may protest 
the BLM's Yuma PRMPA. A person who meets the conditions and files a 
protest must file the protest within 30 days of the date that the 
Environmental Protection Agency publishes its notice of availability in 
the Federal Register. The protest procedures are described in an 
appendix of the Final EIS/PRMPA.

[[Page 76478]]

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Final EIS/PRMPA have been sent to affected 
Federal, State, and local government agencies and to other 
stakeholders. Copies are available for public inspection at the BLM 
Yuma Field Office, 2555 East Gila Ridge Road, Yuma, AZ 85365 and the 
BLM Arizona State Office, One North Central Avenue, Suite 800, Phoenix, 
AZ 85004. Interested persons may also review the document on the 
following Web site: http://ww2.wapa.gov/sites/Western/transmission/interconn/Pages/QuartzsiteSolar.aspx.
    All protests must be in writing and mailed to one of the following 
addresses: Regular Mail: BLM Director (210), Attention: Brenda Hudgens-
Williams, P.O. Box 71383, Washington, DC 20024-1383. Overnight Mail: 
BLM Director (210), Attention: Brenda Hudgens-Williams, 20 M Street 
SE., Room 2134LM, Washington, DC 20003.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on the proposed 
Project, the EIS and general information about Western's transmission 
system, contact Ms. Liana Reilly, NEPA Document Manager, Western Area 
Power Administration, P.O. Box 281213, Lakewood, CO 80228-8213, 
telephone (720) 962-7253 or by email [email protected].. For 
general information on the DOE NEPA process, please contact Ms. Carol 
M. Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC-54), 
U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 
20585, telephone (202) 586-4600 or (800) 472-2756.
    For information on the BLM's role with the Project or the Yuma 
PRMPA, contact Mr. Eddie Arreola, Supervisory Project Manager, 
telephone (602) 417-9505, One North Central Avenue, Suite 800 Phoenix, 
AZ 85004. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf may 
call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to 
contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is 
available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question 
with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal 
business hours.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Western is a Federal agency under the U.S. 
Department of Energy (DOE) that markets and transmits wholesale 
electrical power through an integrated 17,000-circuit mile, high-
voltage transmission system across 15 western states. Western's Open 
Access Transmission Service Tariff (Tariff) provides non-discriminatory 
access to Western's electric transmission system. Western provides 
transmission services if there is available capacity and the 
reliability of the transmission system is maintained.
    Interested parties were notified of the proposed Project and the 
public comment opportunity through a Notice of Intent published in the 
Federal Register on January 14, 2010 (75 FR 2133). On March 30, 2011, 
the BLM issued a separate Notice of Intent for the Yuma PRMPA (76 FR 
17668). A Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Draft EIS/PRMPA for the 
proposed Project in La Paz County was published in the Federal Register 
on November 10, 2011 (76 FR 70125). Western and the BLM held public 
hearings on the Draft EIS/PRMPA in Yuma, Arizona, on December 13, 2011, 
and in Quartzsite, Arizona, on December 14, 2011. The formal comment 
period closed on February 8, 2012. Comments received during the comment 
period were considered in preparing the Final EIS/PRMPA.

Proposed Project

    The proposed Project is a 100-MW solar electric power plant that 
would use concentrating solar power technology to capture the sun's 
heat to make steam, which would power traditional steam turbine 
generators. The Project would contain the central receiver or tower, a 
solar field consisting of mirrors or heliostats to reflect the sun's 
energy to the central tower, a conventional steam turbine generator, 
insulated storage tanks for hot and cold liquid salt, ancillary tanks, 
evaporation ponds, a temporary construction laydown area, technical and 
non-technical buildings, transformers and a 161/230-kV electrical 
substation, roads, and water wells. All Project components would be 
located on BLM-managed land. QSE has requested to interconnect the 
proposed Project to Western's transmission system. A new 1.5-mile long 
161/230-kV generator tie-line would extend from the southern boundary 
of the solar facility boundary to a new switchyard to be constructed 
adjacent to Western's existing Bouse-Kofa 161-kV transmission line. The 
switchyard would be on BLM-managed land and would be owned and operated 
by Western.
    QSE has submitted a ROW application to the BLM for the Project. The 
ROW application is for a total of 26,273 acres, of which 1,675 acres 
would be utilized for the final Project ROW if approved. The Project 
site is in an undeveloped area in La Paz County, Arizona, east of State 
Route (SR) 95, approximately 10 miles north of Quartzsite, Arizona, on 
lands managed by the BLM.

Agency Purpose and Need

    Western's purpose and need for the action is to respond to QSE's 
interconnection request in accordance with Western's Tariff. The BLM's 
purpose and need for the action is to respond to QSE's application for 
a ROW under FLPMA to construct, operate, and decommission the solar 
facility, 161/230-kV generation tie-line and access road. The BLM also 
needs to respond to Western's application for a switchyard, and fiber 
optic line on public lands the BLM administers. The BLM will decide 
whether to approve, approve with modification, or deny the ROW 
applications for the proposed Project.

Proposed Agency Actions

    Western's proposed action is to interconnect the proposed Project 
to Western's existing Bouse-Kofa 161-kV transmission line. As part of 
Western's proposed action, Western would also construct, operate, and 
maintain a new switchyard and would establish a fiber optic and/or 
microwave telecommunications pathway. The BLM, in addition to 
responding to the project ROW applications analyzed in the EIS, is also 
considering approving the Yuma PRMPA. The Yuma PRMPA recognizes the 
compatibility of solar generation facilities on public lands, but 
requires that such activities conform to designated visual resource 
management (VRM) classes. If the BLM decides to grant a ROW for the 
project the BLM would also approve the Yuma PRMPA as required.


    Three alternatives were analyzed in the FEIS including the QSE's 
proposed Project with dry-cooling technology, Alternative 1 with hybrid 
cooling technology, and the No Action alternative. Also analyzed were 
three alternatives related to the Yuma PRMPA including approving the 
PRMPA to change approximately 6,800 acres of VRM Class III to VRM Class 
IV along with Project approval, approving the PRMPA to change 
approximately 6,800 acres of VRM Class III to VRM Class IV without 
Project approval, and the No Action alternative of not approving the 
PRMPA and leaving the current VRM Class III designation in place.
    Western's preferred alternative is to grant the interconnection 
request for the proposed Project to Western's existing Bouse-Kofa 161-
kV transmission line and to construct, operate, and maintain a new 
switchyard. The BLM's preferred alternative is to approve the ROW for 
the Project which consists of a 100-MW solar thermal generation power 

[[Page 76479]]

using dry-cooling technology and a new 1.5 mile long 161/230-kV 
generator tie-line, switchyard, and access road along with approval of 
the PRMPA to change the Project area to VRM Class IV.

Protest Information

    Instructions for filing a protest with the BLM Director regarding 
the Yuma PRMPA may also be found at 43 CFR 1610.5-2. Email and faxed 
protests will not be accepted as valid protests unless the protesting 
party also provides the original letter by either regular or overnight 
mail postmarked by the close of the protest period. Under these 
conditions, the BLM will consider the email or faxed protest as an 
advance copy and it will receive full consideration. If you wish to 
provide the BLM with such advance notification, please direct faxed 
protests to the attention of the BLM protest coordinator at (202)-912-
7212, and emails to [email protected]. All protests, 
including the follow-up letter to emails or faxes, must be in writing 
and mailed to the appropriate address, as set forth in the ADDRESSES 
section above. Before including your phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your protest, you should be 
aware that your entire protest, including your personal identifying 
information, may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask the BLM in your protest to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, the BLM cannot guarantee that it will 
be able to do so.

    Dated: December 14, 2012.
Anita J. Decker,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2012-31171 Filed 12-27-12; 8:45 am]