Interior Greenlights New Era for Solar Development on Public Lands in the Southwest

“Record of Decision” Establishes the Final Solar Plan Marking a Major Milestone in Clean Energy Development

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (October 12, 2012) – U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today signed the final “Record of Decision” greenlighting the implementation of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for solar energy development on public lands in the Southwest.

The final plan, originally issued in July 2012, designates 17 solar energy zones covering about 285,000 acres of public lands and identifies incentives to make them priority areas for solar development. The program is designed to guide development away from sensitive lands and wildlife habitat by directing development to solar energy zones – prescribed areas that will have lower impacts on the landscape, while also possessing high solar potential and necessary infrastructure like transmission to deliver clean energy to homes and businesses across our nation.

Following is a statement from Helen O’Shea, director of the Western Renewable Energy Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Today marks a historic milestone for solar energy development. By signing the “Record of Decision,” Secretary Salazar establishes a solar program that directs development to designated solar zones with lower environmental conflict and high solar resources while delivering clean energy in an environmentally responsible manner.

“Just three years ago this solar program didn’t exist and was built from the ground up. Today, Interior Department’s solar zone-based approach holds the promise to deliver the projects that we need to power our homes and businesses with clean energy in an environmentally responsible manner, while helping fight the worst effects of our changing climate.

“The opportunity and challenge ahead is to translate this landmark solar plan into real management changes on the ground. Making this transition won’t be easy, but NRDC is committed to working with the Interior Department and other stakeholders to make the program a success.”

For additional detail, see an NRDC blog post on the solar zone program at:

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