Project Merit: Permitting


CH2M (Englewood, Colo.) for permitting the Ivanpah solar project of approximately 5.6 square miles for project developer Brightsource. The California Energy Commission is known for being tough on new licenses. This was not only the first concentrating solar power plant but the largest in the world. The three year permitting process was short in light of the eight organized opposition groups. After licensing, CH2M later took on regulatory compliance support for biological, cultural and paleontological resources. One challenge was relocating threatened desert tortoises, which spend most of the year underground. When the USFWS quota of tortoises were found in one-third of the site, CH2M worked with federal agencies to drive a revised biological opinion within 2.5 months (typically 6 months to 1.5 years). The tortoises were successfully relocated and only two mortalities were recorded.