Notice of Preparation for CUP No. 220021 and DA No. 2200016
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COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE – NOTICE OF PREPARATION OF A DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT & SCOPING MEETING

This notice is to advise that the County of Riverside, as lead agency, has completed and is issuing notification of the availability and completion of a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Conditional Use Permit No. 220021 (CUP220021) and Development Agreement No. 2200016 (DA2200016), Easley Renewable Energy Project as described below.

Comment Period

The County is conducting a 30-day comment period from November 14, 2022, to December 16, 2022. All written comments must be received in writing by December 16, 2022, by 5:00 p.m. (end of the 30-day public review period). Please send all comments via mail to Riverside County Planning Department, Attention: Tim Wheeler, 4080 Lemon Street, 12th Floor, Riverside, CA 92501 OR via email to twheeler@rivco.org.   

Project Information

The Project consists of 24 parcels on private land (~990 acres), and 13 parcels on BLM-administered lands (~2,745 acres). The APNs of which are listed on the attached sheet titled “Assessor’s Parcels for Project Site CUP220021 Easley Renewable Energy Project.” The 500 kilovolt (kV) generation tie (gen-tie) transmission line would transmit the solar power generated from an onsite substation, on the southern edge of the Easley Project just west of Rice Road/State Route (SR) 177, to interconnect into the regional transmission grid approximately 6.7 miles to the east-southeast.

IP Easley, LLC (“Applicant”), a subsidiary of Intersect Power, LLC, proposes to construct, operate, and decommission the Easley Renewable Energy Project, a utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) electrical generating and storage facility and associated infrastructure to generate and deliver renewable electricity to the statewide electricity transmission grid.

The proposed Project would generate and store up to 650 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity via arrays of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, battery energy storage system (BESS), and appurtenant facilities. A 6.7-mile 500 kV generation-tie (gen-tie) line would mainly traverse across the approved Oberon Renewable Energy Project site and connect into an approved substation that is under construction on the Oberon site, an adjacent solar and energy storage facility owned by Intersect Power. From the Oberon onsite substation, the power generated by the Easley Project would be transmitted to the SCE Red Bluff Substation via the Oberon 500 kV gen-tie line, which is expected to be online by the end of 2023.

Public lands within the Project solar application area include lands designated as Development Focus Area (DFA) by the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) and associated Record of Decision (ROD), and thus, have been targeted for renewable energy development. Because the proposed Project is partially located on federal land under management of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the BLM is the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. section 4321 et seq.

Depending on the timing of the interconnection agreement, the Easley Project could be online as early as late 2025 and its construction may be phased. The Project would operate for a minimum of 35 years and up to 50 or more years. At the end of its useful life, the Project would be decommissioned, and the land returned to its pre-Project contours. Revegetation would be conducted in accordance with an approved Decommissioning and Revegetation Plan, and revegetation success would depend on the climatic conditions in the area at the time of decommissioning.

Therefore, the Applicant is seeking a minimum 40-year CUP (CUP 220021) for the construction, operation, and decommissioning of the proposed solar facility and gen-tie line. The Applicant is also seeking cancellation of Williamson Act contracts, which will be considered by the County prior to Project approval. As part of the Project, the Applicant is seeking to vacate the facility’s interior roadways and merge contiguous Project parcels. Roads along the Project perimeter on the solar facility lands would remain dedicated public access. Ancillary permits, including encroachment permits, grading and construction permits, and certificates of occupancy, are anticipated from the County. These permits and approvals are local ministerial actions that will follow CEQA compliance.

PROJECT LOCATION:  The project is generally located northeast of Highway 177/Orion Road and north of Oasis Road, east of Kaiser Road, south of Investor Avenue in the Desert Center Area Plan. 

Project Contact Information

Tim Wheeler, Project Planner

Riverside County Planning Department
4080 Lemon Street, 12th Floor, Riverside, CA  92501
(951) 955-6060
twheeler@rivco.org

Environmental Document

Notice of Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report & Scoping Meeting - Attachment A