by Jessica Goad
The way that solar energy is sited and built on federal public lands just got more simpler. Earlier today, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed into law a new plan outlining the best places for solar to be developed on public lands and incentives for avoiding places that are ecologically sensitive.
At the beginning of this administration, there were literally no solar energy projects on public lands, despite hundreds of applications lined up. Currently one project is operating while five others are under construction.
“Energy from sources like wind and solar have doubled since the President took office, and with today’s milestone, we are laying a sustainable foundation to keep expanding our nation’s domestic energy resources,” said Secretary Salazar in a statement.
Perhaps the most unique idea in the “Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” announced today is that of zones for solar development. These areas were screened for their high solar resource potential, transmission capacity, and lack of resource conflicts, the idea being that projects located within them will benefit from faster permitting and easier mitigation. Altogether, 17 zones covering approximately 285,000 acres were identified in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Solar development is also ...