Skip to comments.Obama admin sets aside large public land tracts to develop solar power plants
Posted on 10/13/2012 11:42:46 AM PDT by IbJensen
Federal officials on Friday approved a plan that sets aside 445 square miles of public land for thedevelopment of large-scale solar power plants, cementing a new government approach to renewable energy development in the West after years of delays and false starts.
At a news conference in Las Vegas, Interior Secretary Ken Salazarcalled the new plan a "roadmap ... that will lead to faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on public lands."
The plan replaces the department's previous first-come, first-served system of approving solar projects, which let developers choose where they wanted to build utility-scale solar sites and allowed for land speculation.
The department no longer will decide projects within the zones on a case-by-case basis as it had since 2005, when solar developers began filing applications. Instead, the department will direct development to land it has identified as having fewer wildlife and natural-resource obstacles.
The government is establishing 17 new "solar energy zones" on 285,000 acres in six states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. More than half of the land 153,627 acres is in Southern California.
Interior also established 19 million acres nearly 30,000 square miles of so-called "variance zones" that will allow developers to propose solar projects in those areas. Environmental and other review of projects proposed in variance zones would be handled on a case-by-case basis.
The Obama administration has authorized 10,000 megawatts of solar, wind and geothermal projects that, when built, would provide enough energy to power more than 3.5 million homes, Salazar said.
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said the effort will help the U.S. stay competitive.
"There is a global race to develop renewable energy technologies and this effort will help us win this race by expanding solar energy production while reducing permitting costs," Chu said in a statement.
The new solar energy zones were chosen because they are near existing power lines, allowing for quick delivery to energy-hungry cities. Also, the chosen sites have fewer of the environmental concerns such as endangered desert tortoise habitat that have plagued other projects.
Environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy that had been critical of the federal government's previous approach to solar development in the desert applauded the new plan.
"We can develop the clean, renewable energy that is essential to our future while protecting our iconic desert landscapes by directing development to areas that are more degraded," said Michael Powelson, the conservancy's North American director of energy programs.
Some solar developers that already are building projects were complimentary of the new approach, saying it will help diversify the country's energy portfolio more quickly.
Still, some cautioned that the new plan could still get mired in the same pattern of delay and inefficiency that hampered previous efforts, and they urged the government to continue pushing solar projects forward.
"The Bureau of Land Management must ensure pending projects do not get bogged down in more bureaucratic processes," said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Salazar said the country four years ago was importing 60 percent of its oil, and that number has dropped to 45 percent today.
"We can see the energy independence of the United States within our grasp," he said.
This land grab for Obamas big donors will be a blight on the environment. Where are you tree huggers now ? This GE built turbine, also a pay back, will be a more pulluting mess than the much smaller footprint than many new oil platforms. I bet the government did all the studies to determine that all environmental concers were addressed. I also have a bridge to sell. For 445 square miles, millions in incentives and tax breaks, the less than 150 permanent Green Jods wont even make a dent in the nations unemployment and under-employment problem. This is what we get from Big Statist Socialists.
I agree...except for Military bases etc., the lands belongs to the states.
Interesting. I read a while ago about some shady deal Harry Reid had made pertaining to land.
Where are the EPA and environmental studies on this land?
Good God...how long until these ecomorons and property thieves are tossed from power?
shades of Clintonesque or what? This is effectively the 3rd Clinton term in so many ways.
How many millions acres did he declare off limits for any kind of development or mining and such?
Any physics or engineering people here who can give us a good estimate about the expected yield of solar energy per square meter, kilometer etc. of solar collector panels?
Obama's executive order 13575 helping to move Agenda 21 along.
Is it going to be called “The National Scrap Metal Scavenger Act” ?
More, if it is OK to denude the landscape with solar panels, then why is it not OK to remove the natural resources before they denude the landscape for solar panels?
It seems to me that permanent solar panels will have an environmental impact greater than a temporary destruction of the landscape to remove resources below the surface.
In a generation or two the land could be back to normal. But with a permanent solar panel allocation in place, the land is lost in shade.
Public land my hiney, more like government land. Huge tracts of government land.
This socialist Muslim POS Obama is destroying the U.S. and doing to the U.S. what Chavez is in Venezuela. Obama is turning the U.S. into a socialist 3rd world hell hole where we will be oppressed,starving slaves as is the result in all socialist countries like Cuba, Venezuela, USSR, Cambodia , N Korea ,etc.
I'm sick and tired of all this socialism.
They never learn. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Hence the state of our nation.
Disgusting. I'd like to see proof of this 60% down to 45% lie, er, line.
I’m familiar with a couple of solar farm projects. 250 megawatts, 4000 acres+. 500 megawatts, 9000 acres or so.
Either project could be done on 40 acres if it was natural gas.
There is nothing green about an energy source that wipes out thousands of acres for a few megawatts. Wind power is wasteful of land in much the same way.
Break the economy, you need less fuel. Its like magic. Economic depressions are great fuel saving strategies.
How much of that is due to solar power? Isn't it due to the oil exporation that Obama hates?