A New Frontier for Solar Projects In The West

NWF applauds action on nation's first large-scale solar projects in California

10-05-2010 // Aislinn Maestas
Burning Sun

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar yesterday green-lit the first large-scale solar energy projects slated to be built on public lands. According to the Department of the Interior, “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 Department of the Interior that would provide thousands of U.S. jobs and advance U.S. clean energy technologies.”

“Today we catch a glimpse of the future,” said Justin Allegro, Manager of NWF's Renewable Energy and Wildlife Program. “Developing utility-scale clean energy resources on our public lands can both be a boon to our economy and protect wildlife and habitats threatened by climate change.”

DOI’s fast-track approval of the projects gives Tessera Solar of Arizona and Chevron Energy Solutions of California access to nearly 6,800 acres of public lands to build and operate solar plants with the potential to power 226,000 – 566,000 typical American homes. In addition, the projects will generate almost 1,000 new jobs.

“NWF applauds these developers, the Obama administration, and our partners in the conservation community for diligently collaborating to balance economic needs with the need to prevent undue additional stress on ecosystems,” said Allegro. “Importantly, approving these two projects has revealed important lessons that can be applied to improve the process of planning and placing projects on public lands to reduce the risk and impact of renewable energy and build momentum for clean energy deployment.”

National Wildlife Federation and other environmental groups have been working closely with the Department of Interior to ensure that solar energy projects on public lands are “smart from the start” - a term used to describe a process of smart development of renewable energy projects that minimize harmful impacts to sensitive wildlife and habitats.

Related Resources
  • Renewable Energy and Wildlife - The National Wildlife Federation urges steering America's energy sources toward the best choices and working to minimize the impact of any energy source on wildlife.