California Flats Solar Project

California Flats Solar Project in Monterey County, California.  California Flats Solar LLC has submitted an application to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a 30-year eagle take permit for the operation of the California Flats Solar Project.  Credit: Tracy Borneman/USFWS

California Flats Solar Project in Monterey County, California. Credit: Tracy Borneman/USFWS

California Flats Solar Project is a 282.5-megawatt alternating current photovoltaic solar power facility on approximately 3,000 acres in unincorporated southeastern Monterey County, California, with road access to the Project through the northeastern corner of San Luis Obispo County. The project is owned by California Flats Solar, LLC, an affiliate of Capital Dynamics, Inc. The project was constructed from 2016 to 2019, and as of March 2019 is fully operational.

As project construction and development has progressed, California Flats Solar LLC requested, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued, multiple incidental eagle take permits, pursuant to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. During construction of the project, California Flats Solar LLC applied for, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued, two single-season disturbance permits, one in 2017 and one in 2018, for disturbance to eagle pairs nesting in the vicinity of construction activities. California Flats Solar LLC also applied for, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued, a long-term 30-year permit for the reoccurring loss of breeding productivity at two golden eagle territories due to disturbance from operational and maintenance activities at the facility and loss of habitat from land development by the project. This long-term permit is effective February 3, 2020 to February 3, 2050.

For each of the permit applications California Flats Solar LLC submitted, we prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, to assess impacts of the proposed action (i.e. issuance of an eagle take permit to the applicant), as well as alternatives to the proposed action. In all cases, the proposed action of issuing a permit required implementation of measures to avoid and minimize adverse effects to eagles to the maximum extent practicable and compensatory mitigation to fully offset eagle take. Details of the minimizations measures and compensatory mitigation for each instance of take permitted can be found in the EA documents. The analyses detailed in the EAs for each of California Flats Solar LLC’s permit applications resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in each case. Please find the FONSI and final EA documents for all permits below.

California Flats Solar LLC recently notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service they will be adding a battery energy storage system to the project. As none of their prior permits analyzed or covered effects to eagles from this modification of the project, California Flats Solar LLC submitted another application on July 10, 2002 for an incidental eagle take permit for take by disturbance of breeding golden eagles during the 2021 eagle breeding season from construction of a battery energy storage system modification to the existing project. The Service is currently considering issuance of this permit, and as with the previous permits, prepared an EA analyzing the impacts of this proposed action. The Service concluded from this analysis there would be no significant impacts and issued a FONSI. Please find the EA and FONSI for this permit application below.

Documents

Long-term 30-Year Permit

Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) (413KB, PDF)
FONSI Attachment 1: Final Environmental Assessment (27MB, PDF)

2021 Single-Season Disturbance Permit

Finding of No Significant Impact and Environmental Assessment (13MB, PDF)

2018 Single-Season Disturbance Permit

Finding of No Significant Impact and Environmental Assessment (3MB, PDF)

2017 Single-Season Disturbance Permit

Finding of No Significant Impact and Environmental Assessment (4MB, PDF)