U.S. Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) is spearheading a federal legislative effort (HR- 6491) to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to convey land to La Paz County, Arizona, in order to form an economic development zone. The zone would be expected to attract utility scale solar developers – creating up to 1,500 MW of electrical power for use in Arizona and California, according to a report on February 16 by the Parker Pioneer.
In anticipation of the bill’s passage, the county’s Board of Supervisors this week issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to interested companies.
La Paz County’s abundant solar resources – which the locals say are among the best in the world – and its 4,500-square-mile land base are assets that could generate economic activity in job creation, tax revenues, and capital investment, Gosar believes, while creating long-term lease fees for the region.
In late December, the news outlet said, Congressman Gosar introduced legislation to authorize the purchase of 8,800 acres of federal land with the intent to develop large solar generation facilities.
La Paz County is one of only a few counties in the United States with more than 95 percent of its land owned by federal, state or tribal governments. The 8,800 acres being requested for county ownership represent less than .005 percent of the more than 1.8 million acres of federal lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in La Paz County
The new, renewable energy projects t would be expected to energize the 3,200-MW 10 West Link 500-kV transmission line currently in development by Abengoa Transmission & Infrastructure and Starwood Energy Group Global.
The line would span 114 miles, from Tonopah, Arizona, to Blythe, California, with 83 miles of it on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Projects being solicited through this RFP will have significant development opportunities due to the coupling of new transmission capacity and the targeted property suited for solar development contiguous to the new line.
“La Paz County is located between large population centers at a critical geographic intersection of solar, natural gas and transmission assets, so there is no reason why we should not become one of the nation’s largest generators of reliable power,” Chairman D. L. Wilson of the La Paz County Board of Supervisors told the Parker Pioneer.
He added, “Congressman Gosar’s determined leadership means that he has wasted no time hitting the ground running in this new administration to help our rural county navigate the federal property acquisition process in order to create an economic engine to participate in the high demand for sustainable energy.”
Several firms already have been pre-qualified to participate in the RFP, the newspaper reported, because they have met the criteria, which includes:
1.) Developing, permitting, financing and operating utility sized projects in CA, AZ or NV,
2.) Successful contracting with the California Independent System Operator (CAISO),
3.) Securing Purchase Power Agreements in markets served by the region,
4.) Strong balance sheet and income statements,
5.) Positive references from governmental entities, and;
6.) Willingness to team with La Paz County to support a development process to construct and operate a utility scale project to interconnect with new or existing transmission assets in the region.
The La Paz County Board of Supervisor invites any qualified developers who meet the above qualifications to contact Kelly Sarber at (760) 613-5994 in order to request a copy of the RFP.