U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu have announced a comprehensive environmental analysis that has identified proposed Solar Energy Zones (SEZs) on public lands in six Western states most suitable for environmentally sound, utility-scale solar energy production (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah).
The detailed study, known as the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, was compiled over the past two years as part of the Obama administration's efforts to create a framework for developing renewable energy in the right way and in the right places. The public is encouraged to provide comment on the draft plan during the next 90 days.
‘This proposal lays out the next phase of President Obama's strategy for rapid and responsible development of renewable energy on America's public lands,’ Salazar says. ‘This analysis will help renewable energy companies and federal agencies focus development on areas of our public lands that are best suited for large-scale solar development.’
Under this proposal, the Bureau of Land Management would establish SEZs within the lands available for solar development right-of-way applications. These are areas that have been identified as most appropriate for development, containing the highest solar energy potential and fewest environmental and resource conflicts. The SEZs would provide directed, landscape-scale planning for future solar projects and allow for a more efficient permitting and siting process, according to the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of the Interior