The First Large-Scale Solar Energy Plants on Public Lands

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Yesterday, we took a big step on our nation’s path to clean energy future with the approval of the first large-scale solar energy plants ever to be built on public lands.

The Tessera Solar Imperial Valley Solar Project and the Chevron Energy Solutions Lucerne Valley Solar Project will both be built in the sunny California desert. Together, the projects could produce up to 754 megawatts of renewable energy, power 226,000 – 566,000 American homes, and support almost 1,000 new jobs.

These two projects reflect the priority President Obama has placed on growing America’s clean energy economy. From spurring the deployment of energy-saving windows and advanced batteries for cars to installing solar panels on the White House roof, the Administration is incentivizing and promoting clean energy technology on a historic scale.

At the Department of the Interior, we have a special responsibility to help lead this effort. As stewards of our nation’s public lands, we oversee deserts, plains, and oceans that can make significant contributions to our nation’s renewable energy portfolio.

To capture wind, solar, and geothermal power on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management has worked to create a collaborative and coordinated permitting process that allows the efficient and responsible review of potential renewable energy projects.

The two large-scale solar projects I approved today went through a vigorous assessment, extensive environmental review, and input from the public. Companies have had to take significant steps to mitigate the projects’ environmental impacts, including shrinking the projects’ footprints and creating alternative habitats for wildlife in consultation with conservation stakeholders and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Today’s projects are proof that we can cut red tape without cutting corners.

We should be proud of today’s milestone as we wisely grow our nation’s clean energy economy, stimulate investment in cutting-edge technology, create jobs for American workers, and promote clean energy for American homes, businesses and industry.

Article by Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior

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