A Korean Company Wants to Build a Solar Plant on Public Lands in Arizona
The Trump administration has rolled back many Obama-era environmental programs, but so far, it hasn’t managed to kill them all.
A little-known solar-energy program in the West is still kicking, and now, under that program, a California-based subsidiary of South Korean company Hanwha is hoping to use nearly 5,000 acres of federally managed desert land near Quartzsite, in southeastern La Paz county, for a solar plant.
174 Power Global Corporation applied to the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the land, late last year. On Wednesday night, the BLM held a meeting in Quartzsite to hear feedback from the local community, part of a much longer process to determine whether the agency will grant the company permission to build its proposed utility-scale photovoltaic solar facility there.
If built, the facility would have peak generation of roughly 800 megawatts of electricity. Sitting just south of Interstate 10, it would be close to the recently approved but still-to-be-constructed substation and Ten West Link transmission line.
The closest town is the unincorporated community of Salome, home to roughly 1,700 people.
“It’s pretty wide open,” Rem Hawes, a spokesperson for the BLM’s state office in Arizona, told Phoenix New Times. “There’s no adjacent town or anything like that,” he added, and the land itself is “not overly developed.” He said the BLM received 174 Power Global’s application in December.
If the project is approved, 174 Power Global would have to pay the BLM annual rental fees, plus roughly $2,300 per megawatt generated, according to Hawes.
The rental fees vary widely, a price list from the BLM shows, and depends on the value of the land. Per acre fees in 2020 range from about $17 to $58,471. Renewable energy advocates have criticized those prices as being “exorbitant,” compared to fees for oil and gas leases.
The proposal is still in the early stages. It must be approved by the BLM, then go through an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act process, before it can be fully approved and construction can begin.