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Obama To Open U.S. Lands To Large-Scale Solar Power Projects
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U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his department is studying whether 670,000 acres of federal lands in six Western states are suitable for the construction of large-scale solar power projects. Salazar, appearing in Las Vegas with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said the Obama administration is doing “everything we can to put the bulls-eye on the development of solar energy on our public lands.” He predicted that by the end of next year, 13 commercial-scale solar power projects could be under construction on U.S. government lands in Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy announced new efficiency standards for fluorescent and recessed lighting fixtures, set to take effect in 2012. Energy Department officials said the tighter standards would save as much as $4 billion annually in energy costs and avoid 594 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions from 2012 to 2042 — the equivalent of removing 166 million cars from the road for a year.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Abi Skipp.

This article originally appeared on Yale Environment 360.

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I just hope this is the first of many. Not a bad start, but the US still has lots of Greening to do do if we are going to be on par with the energy portfolio of other 'developed' countries like Germany, Spain, and Japan... but Kudos to our man Obama for actually making a move in the right direction.

Posted by: Zach Estela on 1 Jul 09

Think you're right Zach, the US is miles behind in the green stakes but it is good to see Obama taking the strides to get us up with the 'greener' countries. I look forward to seeing a lot more being done in the future.

Posted by: AltEstore on 5 Jul 09

Great article. I recently also wrote about the same story. There is some more information that your readers might find useful. Regarding the locations in the states that you mentioned, they were selected based on their potential for high solar energy and low resource conflicts.

In addition, the selections were based on ongoing state/regional studies, including California’s Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative and the Western Governors’ Association’s Western Renewable Energy Zones and Transmission Study.

For land to be used as part of the initiative, according to the Interior, it must also meet criteria including:
*having excellent solar resources (greater than 6.5 solar insolation- a measure of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a specified timeframe.)
*being in close proximity to existing roads, transmission lines, or a designated corridor.
containing at least 2,000 acres of Bureau-administered lands.

The opening up for these lands has generated a lot of interest from private companies facilitating renewable energy. The Bureau has currently received about 470 applications for renewable energy projects, 158 of which are for active solar applications.

Right now, the Bureau will begin site-specific environmental reviews for two major projects in Nevada that will have a combined capacity of more than 400 megawatts of electricity- the NextLight Silver State South array which is expected to produce 267 megawatts, and the NextLight Silver State North array which is expected to produce about 140 megawatts.

In addition, the Interior has said that it will continue to work with the Western Governors’ Association on the development of renewable energy zones and transmission corridors.

Posted by: Kyriaki Sandy Venetis on 10 Jul 09

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