By Lori Abbott, Public News Service – CA
A plan to create solar-energy zones in California and five other western states is getting a closer look.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the Bureau of Land Management’s draft plans will include more information on how solar projects will affect wild lands, wildlife, water and other resources in proposed solar-energy zones.
Kim Delfino, program director for Defenders of Wildlife in California, thinks the “zone” approach offers the best chance for responsibly developing solar energy on public lands, and the goal is to encourage it as soon as possible.
Listen to this story featuring Calif. program director, Kim Delfino, on Public News Service radio.
“In the right locations, which means that we’re putting them where you’re not going to have significant impacts on wildlife, habitat areas, important natural resources and cultural areas.”
When it comes to developing renewable-energy projects on public lands, Delfino says, using what they call a “smart from the start” approach will allow the process to move much faster.
“If you figure out ahead of time where the best, most low-cost places are to go and you have a consensus about that, when projects are proposed there, they can move forward quickly, efficiently and with minimal litigation – or no litigation is the goal.”
The federal government last week announced four new renewable-energy projects, which include two utility-scale solar developments and a transmission line in California as well as a wind-energy project in Oregon. Together, the four projects will provide a combined 550 megawatts of electricity, enough to power up to 380,000 homes and generate several million dollars of yearly tax revenue for local governments.