Salazar Approves 5th Solar Project On Public Lands

Joanna Schroeder

The fifth solar project to occur on public lands has been approved by Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. The Calico Solar Project, located in San Bernardino County, California was proposed by Tessera Solar of Texas, and when completed could produce over 663.5 megawatts of renewable energy or enough to annually power between 200,000 – 500,000 homes. The solar project will use Stirling Energy System‘s SunCatcher technology, and project planners are anticipating the need for 500 new jobs.

“The Calico Solar Project is one of several projects in the pipeline that will help California and this nation build a renewable energy economy,” Secretary Salazar said in signing the Record of Decision. “With each project, we are helping to create new jobs for American workers, reduce carbon emissions, promote energy independence and strengthen our national security.”

October has been the month for public land approvals. Prior to the Calico Solar Project getting the go ahead, Salazar also approved four renewable energy projects on public lands with three located in California and one in Nevada. The projects include Imperial Valley Solar Project, Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project, Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, and Silver State North Solar Project. Should all five solar projects come to fruition, they could generate over 1,800 megawatts of renewable energy, or enough to power 550,000 to 1.4 million homes.

The Secretary’s decision authorizes the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to offer Tessera Solar a right-of-way grant to use these public lands for 30 years if all rents and other conditions are met. The site is on 4,604 acres of public lands in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, 37 miles east of Barstow. In addition, Tessera Solar is eligible to apply for significant funding through the Department of Energy’s Recovery Act conditional loan guarantee program.

“This marks the fifth solar energy project approved on public lands in the last two weeks,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey. “Through these approvals, along with recent approvals for transmission lines and other renewable energy infrastructure, we are continuing to make significant contributions to this nation’s renewable energy generation capabilities.”

Electricity, Smart Grid, Solar