A proposed “Solar Zone” could be coming to California, if the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has it’s way.
According to PV-Tech, the US BLM just released its last Environmental Impact Statement and Proposed California Desert Conservation Plan Amendment, and suggested creating a solar zone in Imperial County, California (West Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area).
If approved, the proposed solar zone would have to go through environmental reviews, along with development restrictions in ecologically sensitive areas and river banks.
Solar zones are quite like special economic zones (SEZ’s), geographical areas where development is encouraged through incentives. These solar zones are helping to boost renewable energy production in the US.
A US BLM official in the article pointed to striking the right balance between clean energy production and environmental conservation, which will be critical for the success of this project:
“We want to make sure that we’re developing energy in the right way and in the right places on our nation’s public lands,” said BLM-California State Director Jim Kenna. “This thorough environmental review and public process helps identify, on a landscape-level, the areas that make most sense for renewable energy development in this part of the desert.”
The Obama administration is setting aside 20,762 acres for both wind and solar projects on land that’s managed by the BLM.
Meanwhile, 19,162 acres of US federal land near Niland, California will be used for the testing and development of geothermal energy.
The proposal follows an announcement this summer by the US Department of the Interior (DOI) to speed up 285,000 acres of public land in the US Southwest for solar projects.