The Obama administration has announced a plan to open public land in 6 states to speed up solar energy development in the United States.
The plan will utilize 17 zones over about 285,000 acres of federal land in California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. The plan of the administration is to create a fast track to large solar power plant development that will provide electricity to homes and businesses in each state.
According to The Department of the Interior and the Energy Department, projects going on in these areas will have minimal impact on the environment and the greatest chance of success.
According to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, â€œthis blueprint for landscape-level planning is about facilitating faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on Americaâ€™s public lands.â€
Environmentalists originally expressed concerns about disturbing pristine natural areas, but Salazar has assured that officials are working to address these concerns in the final plan, which currently blocks development on 78 million acres of federal land deemed too environmentally sensitive. The plan will be overseen by the Bureau of Land Management.
The government expects to develop nearly 23,700 megawatts of solar power from the plan, which could power about 7 million homes. This is a huge push for the fast development of solar power, and a project that could be ongoing for years, long after Obama is out of office.
Public domain image (National Renewable Energy Laboratory): solar power tower