Interior, Energy finalize strategy for solar power production on public lands

topseller/Shutterstock.com

The Energy and Interior departments this week announced what they called a major step for solar energy initiatives on public lands.

The final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for solar energy development will serve as a roadmap for large-scale projects, laying out existing and planned transmission lines and allowing for faster permitting, according to an Interior press release.

The PEIS outlines the government’s strategy for developing 17 solar energy zones on public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Solar energy zones are areas where power companies could develop utility-scale solar energy plants on publically owned land. The departments expect the projects to use 284,918 acres of land currently belonging to the Bureau of Land Management. The chosen sites would generate enough energy to power approximately 1.7 million homes, according to the release. Additional “variance sites” lying outside the marked zones if developed could power another 7 million homes.

In a statement released on his department’s website, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar emphasized the project’s ability to quickly build up the country’s solar energy capacities.

“This blueprint for landscape-level planning is about facilitating faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on America’s public lands,” Salazar said. “This is a key milestone in building a sustainable foundation for utility-scale solar energy development and conservation on public lands over the next two decades.”

The solar energy zones would allow private industry to quickly access permits and scale up the amount of electricity generated from these areas.

In selecting the solar energy zones, the departments took into account several key factors, including access to transmission lines, abundant solar resources and low conflict with the neighboring ecosystems. Additionally, the report indicated it looked into concerns of environmentalists, who posted comments on a draft of the PEIS.  

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the PEIS would help increase the consumption of renewable green energy.

“This new roadmap builds on that commitment by identifying public lands that are best-suited for solar energy projects, improving the permitting process, and creating incentives to deliver more renewable energy to American homes and businesses,” Chu said.

Solar energy has come under fierce criticism following the controversy surrounding loans given to energy company Solyndra. Even so, U.S. production of solar power has been increasing steadily during the past several years, as demand for cheaper and more renewable energy increases. 

(Image via topseller/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.