Big Solar, Wind Projects Backed By U.S.

Continuing the Obama administration’s push for big renewable energy development, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar has approved a batch of projects on public lands –  two utility-scale solar power plants in California, a wind energy plant in Oregon, and a transmission line in Southern California that’s needed to tie nine planned solar plants to the grid.

All told, the projects will provide 550 megawatts (MW) of new electrical generation capacity, enough juice to power 185,000 to 380,000 homes, DOI said. The deparment also promoted the job-creating benefits the projects will yield: more than 1,300 construction jobs.

utility-scale solar, abengoa

image via Abengoa

The four projects approved were the 250-MW capacity Abengoa Mojave Solar Project; the 200-MW capacity Imperial Solar Energy Center; the 104-MW capacity West Butte Wind Energy Project, which will extend Oregon’s wind-power industry away from the Columbia River Gorge and into Central Oregon for the first time; and the Devers-Palo Verde No. 2 Transmission Line Project, which will run 115 miles from Blythe near the Arizona border to Palm Springs, and then go another 41.6 miles onto Romoland.

Along with these approvals, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management said it would officially begin environmental analyses of two wind projects and a solar energy project in California with a combined generating capacity of more than 370 MW. DOI also said it was working on a supplement to its framework for developing utility-scale solar on public lands, with “well defined criteria for identifying solar energy zones; incentives for encouraging developers to site their projects in the zones and a variance process for those who wish to develop facilities outside such zones; additional surveys of biological and cultural resources in the zones; and a more detailed analysis of transmission.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Anonymous

    That’s nice, Mr. Salazar.u00a0 Now stop selling out our Native American Sacred areas for wind and solar developments!