Interior Secretary Approves The First Solar Projects On Public Lands

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has approved the Imperial Valley Solar Project and the Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project, the first large-scale solar energy plants ever to be built on public lands. The two projects, both located in California, are the first in a series of renewable energy projects on public lands under final review by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI).

The Imperial Valley Solar Project, proposed by Tessera Solar of Texas, will use Stirling Energy System's SunCatcher technology on 6,360 acres of public lands in Imperial County. The plant is expected to produce up to 709 MW from 28,360 solar dishes.

The Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project, proposed by Chevron Energy Solutions of California, will employ photovoltaic solar technology on 422 acres of public lands in San Bernardino County and will produce up to 45 MW from 40,500 solar panels.

In April 2009, DOI's Bureau of Land Management introduced guaranteed coordinated processing, full environmental analysis and public review for specific renewable energy projects where the companies involved demonstrated they were ready to advance to the formal environmental review and public participation process.

Each project has undergone thorough environmental review, including public scoping, draft environment impact statements (EIS) and final EIS. The companies have undertaken extensive mitigation efforts to minimize any impacts to wildlife, water and other resources, according to the DOI. State and federal agencies have set up a joint compensation fund operated by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to ensure that impacts are mitigated.

SOURCE: U.S. Department Of The Interior

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