U.S. BLM Approves Four Projects Use of Public Land to Connect Renewable Energy to Power Grid
The United States Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management approved four new projects to run transmission lines through public land to transport electricity from large-scale renewable energy projects to the power grid.
Two solar power projects and a wind power project being developed on private land will now be able to use public land to connect to the power grid. Combined, these projects will pump 550 MW of renewable energy into the electric grid.
Abengoa Solar, Inc. has been approved to run 17 miles of transmission lines on public land in San Bernadio County, California to connect its 250 MW Mojave Desert Solar Project to the power grid. Last month, the project was awarded a Department of Energy loan guarantee worth US$1.2 billion. When construction is complete in 2013, the energy generated will be sold to Southern California Edison.
CSOLAR Development, LLC will use 19 acres of BLM land in California's Imperial County as a right-of-way to connect its proposed Imperial Solar Energy Center - South Project to the power grid. The 200 MW solar farm is expected to cost US$4 billion, 80 percent of which CSOLAR hopes will be covered by a U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee.
West Butte Wind Power, LLC was approved to build an access road and transmission line that will cross 4.5 miles of BLM land in the Prineville District, Oregon to connect its planned 104 MW wind farm to the power grid.
In addtion, BLM approved Southern California Edison to build a transmission line on 57 miles of public land and two miles of National Forest Land to connect multiple planned solar energy projects near Blythe, California to substations in Palm Springs, CA and Romoland, CA. The entire line will run 115 miles. As part of the agreement with BLM all four companies will implement and fund some form of habitat conservation in the surrounding area that their project will impact.
Building a transmission infrastructure to support alternative energy generation will be key to moving America towards its renewable energy goals says Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
“The focus we have placed on smart planning and coordinated reviews of permit applications is paying dividends with new large-scale renewable energy projects that are springing to life, powering communities, and creating jobs across the West,” said Salazar. “
He added, "As we encourage innovation and the deployment of technologies through the projects approved today, we are also moving forward with an enduring solar energy program that will further spur private sector job-creation and solar power production.”