Trump Approves First Solar’s Mega-Farm in California Desert

The Trump administration on Wednesday will announce the authorization of a roughly 3,000-acre solar farm near Palm Springs, California, after developers scaled back its size to help avoid threatened desert tortoises and cultural artifacts.

First Solar Inc.’s 450-megawatt Desert Quartzite project in eastern Riverside County has been praised by some environmentalists for its careful design on lands teeming with protected species and relics.

“It’s a big project, over 2,700 acres. That’s no small chunk of land, and they’re going to squeeze 450 megawatts out of that,” said Casey Hammond, the Interior Department’s acting assistant secretary of land and minerals management. “If you look at how they scaled it down from where they first were — it’s 1,000 acres less — and what they’re going to crank out of there, utility payers should get a good value.”

The project, being developed by Desert Quartzite LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of First Solar, is expected to be in operation by 2022. …

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