Three solar projects totaling 1 GW given construction go-ahead by federal government

The Department of the Interior has approved two solar projects, with a third nearing completion on public lands in Riverside County, California. The three projects will generate approximately 1 GW and are the first projects approved under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) in the desert regions of seven California counties.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the Arica and Victory Pass solar projects, paving the way for the construction of 465 MW of solar power and up to 400 MW of energy storage. Together, these renewable energy projects will result in an estimated combined infrastructure investment of $689 million, $5.9 million in annual operational economic benefit and power approximately 132,000 homes.

In the coming days, the BLM expects to approve the Oberon solar project, a 500 MW photovoltaic solar project on 2,700 hectares of public land.

“As the Department of the Interior continues to lead the Biden-Harris government in approaching its ambitious renewable energy goals, we know that onshore solar projects such as those being advanced today will help communities across the country become part part of the climate solution, while creating well-paid union jobs,” said Minister Deb Haaland. “We will continue to work with states, cities and tribes to make historic investments in increasing climate resilience, advancing clean energy projects and replacing aging infrastructure.”

Also the BLM this week announced it draws interest in developing utility-scale solar on nearly 90,000 acres of public land spread across Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. The request is the agency’s largest for solar development, as it has designated 17 solar zones in a comprehensive solar planning effort in 2012.

The Arica, Victory Pass and Oberon solar projects are located in areas designated as suitable for renewable energy development as part of the DRECP, which targets 10.8 million acres of public land in the desert regions of seven California counties . This landscape-level plan streamlines renewable energy development while preserving unique and valuable desert ecosystems and providing opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The DRECP is a partnership between the BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service, California Energy Commission, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. To approve these sites for renewable energy projects, the Department and the BLM work with tribal governments, local communities, regulatory agencies, industry, and other federal agencies.

The BLM is currently processing 54 large-scale onshore clean energy projects proposed on public lands in the western United States. This includes 40 solar projects, four wind projects, four geothermal projects and six interconnection lines essential for clean energy projects proposed on non-federal land. The 54 projects have the combined potential to add more than 27,500 MW of renewable energy to the western power grid. The BLM is also conducting the preliminary assessment of 64 applications for solar and wind development, as well as 47 applications for wind and solar energy testing.

News item from DOI

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