Topaz Solar Farm

CLIENT:  FIRST SOLAR, USDOE, USACE


Installing the racking system for the solar array

Installing the racking system for the solar array

The completed solar array covering 3,500 acres

The completed solar array covering 3,500 acres

FAST FACTS:

  • Fast-tracked project:  EIS completed in 11 months
  • 550 mW; at the time largest solar plant in the US at the time (now second largest)
  • Created 400 construction jobs
  • $2.5 billion dollar project
  • Includes 9 million solar panels 

EMPSi prepared a Draft and Final EIS for the complex Topaz Solar Farm in eastern San Luis Obispo County, California. The 550-mW facility comprised about nine million photovoltaic panels within approximately 437 arrays and associated electric equipment on 3,500 acres. The project is interconnected with PG&E’s existing Morro Bay-Midway 230kV transmission line.

Because the California Independent System Operator determined that network upgrades of the transmission line would be required to accommodate part of the project, as well as other generation projects in the region, the transmission line upgrade was also analyzed in the EIS. These network upgrades include re-conductoring 35 miles of 230kV transmission lines between a new PG&E switching station and the Midway substation.

Technical issues included biological resources, prime farmlands, floodplains, water resources, visual resources, and land use. EMPSi staff interacted extensively with DOE headquarters staff. Fewer than 12 months elapsed from scoping to the final compliance document.