The way that solar energy is sited and built on federal public lands just got simpler, reports Jessica Goad at Climate Progress. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed into law a new plan outlining the best places for solar to be developed on public lands and incentives for avoiding places that are ecologically sensitive. Zones for solar development were screened for their high solar resource potential, transmission capacity, and lack of resource conflicts. Projects located within them will benefit from faster permitting and easier mitigation. Altogether, 17 zones covering nearly 300,000 acres were identified in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. When President Obama took office, there were literally no solar energy projects on public lands, despite hundreds of applications lined up. Currently one project is operating while five others are under construction. “Energy from sources like wind and solar have doubled since the President took office, and we are laying a sustainable foundation to keep expanding our nation’s domestic energy resources,” said Secretary Salazar. Recently, the Interior Department announced that 10,000 megawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal energy have been authorized on public lands.
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