Obama Administration unveil plans for Solar Energy Zones

solar panels

Despite the solar power industry entering an era of high-profile bankruptcies, the Obama administration seems gung-ho on promoting solar power in six Western states by identifying them as “Solar Energy Zones”. Solar power companies like Solyndra who received nearly half-billion-dollar federal loans have etched a failure story of the millennium. Still, the undeterred Obama government is continuing to push its big-league plans to promote solar power development.

The government identified Seventeen sites in the Western states of California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. Out of which five sites in Nevada, four in Colorado, three in Utah, two in California and Arizona, and one in New Mexico are ideal for future solar development.

The 677,000 acres of  “Solar Energy Zones” were judged according to the solar plant’s potential and the less number of clashes it will sustain with environmental groups.

The intended solar projects will develop into large-scale solar power plants on public lands to generate thousands of megawatts of electricity while minimizing combat with wildlife and natural resources.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the announcement a giant step for promoting solar power, specifically in the West.

However, not all’s hunky-dory for the U.S. Government since Solyndra locked the doors despite receiving millions of dollars in federal loans. The company declared bankruptcy leaving its 1,100 workers scouting for new jobs.

During a conference with the reporters, Salazar said, “the new plan establishes for the first time a blueprint for landscape-level planning that will help facilitate smarter siting of solar energy projects.” He also announced that the plan is open for a 90-day public comment period. Moreover, plans are on to open a further 20 million acres of public land for solar development.

Although environmental groups received the news with positive interest, the solar industry was apprehensive about the solar energy zones. Rhone Resch, president, and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association observed concern about the flexibility in project siting and access to transmission since these are crucial in financing utility-scale projects.

Salazar said they plan to reduce conflicts by pre-screening the lands to show that they are near transmission sites and offer fewer environmental disturbances.

The new plan drafted in December will provide a clear definition of how companies should proceed further in areas the government considers suitable for solar power. Seven sites in California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico were dropped from the new plan since they were away from transmission sites and attracted very little interest from investors.

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