U.S. Identifies Zones for Solar Development on Public Lands

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The Obama administration has identified 17 sites on public lands across six Southwestern states that officials say are most suitable for utility-scale solar projects.

In a report, federal officials vowed to expedite applications for solar projects on these sites — located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah — which were targeted because of access to existing or planned transmission lines, minimal resource conflicts, existing development incentives, and solar potential.

The sites,covering a total of 285,000 acres, have the potential to produce nearly 5,900 megawatts of energy, enough to power 1.8 million homes, according to the U.S. Interior Department. While the government also created a process for quicker approval of “well-sited projects” on another 19 million acres outside these zones, the plan excluded more than 78 million acres of public land from solar development.

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.