Three Big Solar, Wind Projects Greenlighted

The Department of Interior has greenlighted three big renewable energy projects that together will produce energy for 340,000 homes.

Two utility-scale solar projects in California and a wind farm in Nevada will generate 1.1 gigawatts (GW) of electricity and support more than 1,000 jobs through construction and operations.

The three projects have been on the department’s "fast-track" list. In August, as part of President Obama’s We Can’t Wait initiative, he announced that seven "nationally and regionally significant solar and wind energy projects" would be expedited in Arizona, California, Nevada and Wyoming.

These seven projects – some of which have already been approved, such as the largest wind farm in the US at 3000 MW add up to nearly 5 GW of energy, enough to power about 1.5 million homes.

The three projects that are now approved are:

McCoy Solar Energy Project (Blythe, California): 750 MW solar PV plant to be built by NextEra on 4394 acres, one of the largest solar projects in the world, will supply energy for 225,000 homes. The developer has agreed to purchase an additional 4500 acres to protect endangered species.

McCoy Solar Project

Desert Harvest Solar Energy Farm (Desert Center, California): 150 MW solar PV plant tp be built by EDF Renewable Energy (formerly enXco) on 1,200 acres, will supply energy for 45,000 homes. It will share infrastructure with another nearby solar project, minimizing new ground disturbance.

Both projects are located in California’s Riverside East Solar Energy Zone, an area established through the Western Solar Energy Plan (Solar Energy Zones) as most suitable for solar development.

Searchlight Wind Energy Project (Seachlight, Nevada): 200 MW project to be built by Duke Energy on 18,949 acres in Clark County, which was fast-tracked back in 2010. 60 miles southeast of Las Vegas, the permanent footprint will only cover 160 acres and will supply energy for 70,000 homes.

Since 2009, Interior has approved 37 renewable energy projects: 20 utlility-scale solar, 8 wind frams and 9 geothermal plants with associated transmission infrastructure.

Combined, the 11.5 GW of projects will power more than 3.8 million American homes and support an estimated 13,500 construction and operations jobs.

23 more projects will be reviewed this year and next in solar, wind and geothermal.

Here are approved and pending renewable energy projects:

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