DOI Establishes 17 Solar Energy Zones on Public Lands in Six Western States

The Department of Interior on Friday finalized its Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), establishing an initial set of 17 solar energy zones totaling about 285,000 acres of public lands that will serve as priority areas for commercial-scale solar development. The initiative is part of the Obama administration’s goal to authorize 10,000 MW of renewable power on public lands.

The PEIS finalized last week essentially provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting for solar power projects  on public lands in six western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. It establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those zones, and a process through which to consider additional zones and solar projects, the DOI said.

The DOI last week also authorized the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project site in Wyoming. The agency has confirmed that since 2009, it has authorized 33 renewable energy projects—18 utility-scale solar facilities, seven wind farms, and eight geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure.

If fully built, projects in the PEIS-designated areas could produce as much as 23,700 MW of solar energy, the DOI said. “The program also keeps the door open, on a case-by-case basis, for the possibility of carefully sited solar projects outside [solar energy zones] on about 19 million acres in ‘variance’ areas. The program also includes a framework for regional mitigation plans, and to protect key natural and cultural resources the program excludes a little under 79 million acres that would be inappropriate for solar development based on currently available information,” the DOI said.

Sources: POWERnews, DOI

—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)
DOI Establishes 17 Solar Energy Zones on Public Lands in Six Western States

The Department of Interior on Friday finalized its Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), establishing an initial set of 17 solar energy zones totaling about 285,000 acres of public lands that will serve as priority areas for commercial-scale solar development. The initiative is part of the Obama administration’s goal to authorize 10,000 MW of renewable power on public lands.

The PEIS finalized last week essentially provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting for solar power projects  on public lands in six western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. It establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those zones, and a process through which to consider additional zones and solar projects, the DOI said.

The DOI last week also authorized the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project site in Wyoming. The agency has confirmed that since 2009, it has authorized 33 renewable energy projects—18 utility-scale solar facilities, seven wind farms, and eight geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure.

If fully built, projects in the PEIS-designated areas could produce as much as 23,700 MW of solar energy, the DOI said. “The program also keeps the door open, on a case-by-case basis, for the possibility of carefully sited solar projects outside [solar energy zones] on about 19 million acres in ‘variance’ areas. The program also includes a framework for regional mitigation plans, and to protect key natural and cultural resources the program excludes a little under 79 million acres that would be inappropriate for solar development based on currently available information,” the DOI said.

Sources: POWERnews, DOI

—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)