U.S. Identifies Solar Zones Open For Development in Western States


The Obama administration has unveiled a plan detailing where utility-scale solar power projects can be developed in the western U.S., with 17 proposed solar energy zones in six western states given the highest priority for solar development.

The blueprint of the plan, released by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), identifies about 445 square miles of desert in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. “That’s where the sweet spots are, so that’s where development will be driven,” said U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The BLM identified another 31,250 square miles where large-scale solar power projects could be potentially be sited if environmental impacts are minimal. The plan would not apply to 13 solar energy projects already being built or dozens more awaiting approval.

A coalition of environmental groups issued a joint statement supporting the effort, calling it a “a balanced package intended equally to reflect the needs of the emerging solar industry and the mandate to conserve our nation’s precious natural resources.”

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

1 Comment

  1. So who wants monopoly owned solar? Put consumer owned units on consumer rooftops! This is public land. Why must the BLM focus be on letting a millionaire developer benefit from our free sunshine?

    The BLM has been hand holding with Wall Street collaboration and foot dragging on this issue long enough. Consumer owned solar will create more jobs, and allow Americans to partake in the free energy from sunshine for decades.