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12/21/2011 02:23 PM     print story email story  

Two More Big Projects Approved on Public Lands: One Solar, One Wind News

Arizona and California will be home to two new utility-scale renewable energy projects, approved on public lands by the Dept of Interior (DOI).

The projects - one solar and one wind - will add nearly 500 megawatts (MW) of energy to the grid and supply electricity to 150,000 homes. 

Solar Project: The 300 MW Sonoran Solar Energy Project will be built on 2000 acres in Arizona by Boulevard Associates, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy. They had originally proposed a concentrating solar plant but that was changed to solar PV because it uses little water. The project is close to transmission lines.

Wind Project: The 186 MW Tule Wind Project, located 70 miles east of San Diego, California, will be built by a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables.

Both projects underwent extensive environmental review, which resulted in reducing the Tule's footprint by half and substituting solar PV for concentrating solar, which would have required 10 times the water.

In the past two years, DOI has green-lighted 25 major renewable energy projects on public lands: 15 commercial-scale solar plans, three wind projects and seven geothermal plants.

In total, the projects will produce 6200 MW of energy to supply 2.2 million American homes, while creating 12,000 renewable energy jobs.

Together, these projects will produce the clean energy equivalent of nearly 18 coal-fired plants.

DOI also announced the next steps toward developing a Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Transmission Line. Atlantic Grid Holdings, LLC has requested a right-of-way grant to develop a high-voltage line to connect up to 7000 MW of offshore wind off the coasts of NY, NJ, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia to the grid. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management opened a public comment period today on the potential environmental effects of the proposal, and is also asking whether other developers are interested in constructing transmission facilities in the area. 

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