Three major renewable energy projects on public lands in the U.S. got the green light from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar yesterday, and are expected to be able to deliver 1100 MW of clean power to the grid when completed and operating. These approvals are part of the current U.S. “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, which aims to increase domestic production and capacity.
“In just over four years, we have advanced 37 wind, solar and geothermal projects on our public lands – or enough to power more than 3.8 million American homes. These projects are bolstering rural economies by generating good jobs and reliable power and strengthening our national energy security.” – Salazar
The three projects, two solar plants and one wind farm, are estimated to be able to provide enough power for 340,000 homes, as well as deliver as many as 1000 jobs related to the construction and operation of the sites. In addition, the projects are expected to displace about 800,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year from power generation.
The McCoy Solar Energy Project, near Blythe, CA, is a planned 750 MW capacity solar plant on 4,300 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, which will connect to the grid at Southern California Edison’s Colorado Substation. The developer has agreed to purchase several thousand acres of additional land as habitat for the Burrowing Owl, Desert Tortoise, and Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard.
The Desert Harvest Solar Farm, near Desert Center, CA, is a planned 150 MW solar plant on 1200 acres of BLM land that will integrate single-axis tracking of the panels to optimize the power production at the site.
The Searchlight Wind Energy Project is a planned 200 MW wind farm sited on 18,949 acres of BLM-managed land near Searchlight, NV. Due to the relatively small footprint of wind turbines, as opposed to that of photovoltaic panels, the permanent footprint of the wind project will only be about 160 acres.
Because these projects are all on public lands, the companies involved agreed to take on significant mitigation efforts at the sites in order to minimize the effects on wildlife, water, and other local resources, and a joint compensation fund has been set up to help mitigate impacts. The BLM is also looking at 23 other clean energy proposals this year, with some 14 solar plants, 3 geothermal plants, and 6 wind farms awaiting review and approval.
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