A detailed study known as the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement was compiled over the past two years as part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to create a framework for developing renewable energy in the right way and in the right places. The next step is a series of public meetings, organized by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. The meetings will be used to gather comments on the study that has identified proposed ‘solar energy zones’ on public lands in the west most suitable for environmentally sound, utility-scale solar energy production.
A Notice of Availability for the draft plan was published in the December 17, 2010 Federal Register, opening a 90-day public comment period. The Bureau of Land Management and Department of Energy will hold 13 public meetings, beginning with a February 2 session in the Nation’s Capital, to provide an overview of the document. The additional meetings will take public comments at several locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah.
Secretary Salazar says - this comprehensive proposal and early planning is designed to help site solar projects in the right places and reduce conflicts and delays in developing our new energy economy. Secretary Chu says - by developing a smart and responsible strategy to expand the use of solar power on federal lands, we can grow our domestic solar industry and create jobs in this important sector.