Biden administration calls for ‘solar sites’ in Colorado

BILLS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. officials on Tuesday announced approval of two large-scale solar projects in California and a move to expand public land in other Western states, including Colorado, for development. potential solar energy, as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to combat climate change. by switching from fossil fuels.

The Department of Interior has approved the Arica and Victory Pass solar projects on federal land in Riverside County east of Los Angeles. Combining them would generate up to 465 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about 132,000 homes, according to San Francisco-based developer Clearway Energy. Officials said they expected approval of a third solar farm with a capacity of 500 megawatts in the coming days.

Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico ‘solar sites’

The Interior Department also put out a call to nominate land for development in “solar sites” in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, totaling about 140 square miles (360 square kilometers).

Invitations to developers come as officials under Democratic President Joe Biden promote regenerative wind and solar energy on public lands and offshore to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. That’s a stark change from Republican President Donald Trump’s emphasis on coal mining and oil and gas drilling.

Biden suffered a blow to his climate agenda this week, in the face of opposition from West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. increase the focus of the government climate legislation and social services. The government was also forced to resume sales of oil and natural gas. in the Gulf of Mexico and many western states, after a federal judge sided with Republican-led states sued when Biden suspended the sale.

In Tuesday’s talks with reporters, Home Secretary Deb Haaland did not directly address the question of the faltering climate bill, but instead referred to clean energy provisions in the United States. The bipartisan infrastructure bill was signed into law last month.

“We fully intend to meet our clean energy goals,” said Haaland. She said the Trump administration has stalled clean energy by shutting down renewable energy offices at the Land Administration and undermining long-term agreements, such as conservation plans tied to energy development. solar energy in the California desert.

“We are rebuilding that capacity,” Haaland said.

Without climate bills, solar incentives would fall

But without the climate bill, tax incentives for large-scale solar construction would drop to 10% of a developer’s total capital cost by 2024, instead of increasing to 30%, Xiaojing Sun , chief solar researcher at industry consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, said.

She says that incentives for residential solar will run out completely by 2024.

“It will significantly slow down the development of solar energy,” says Sun.

However, she added that streamlining federal land access could help the industry, as large solar farms on non-federal lands are facing significant disruption. growing local opposition and cumbersome zoning laws.

The Bureau of Land Management oversees nearly a quarter of a billion acres of land, mostly in Western states. Agency director Tracy-Stone Manning said promoting renewable energy is now one of their top priorities.

She said: 40 large-scale solar proposals in the West are being considered.

The agency earlier this month issued a draft plan to reduce rent and other fees paid by companies allowed to build wind and solar projects on public lands. Officials were unable to provide an estimate of how much could be saved for developers.

In Nevada, where the federal government owns and manages more than 80 percent of the state’s land, large-scale solar projects have faced opposition from environmentalists concerned about harm to the environment. plants and animals in sunny deserts.

The developers abandoned the plan for what was supposed to install the country’s largest solar panel earlier this year north of Las Vegas amid concerns from local residents. Environmentalists are fighting another solar project near the Nevada-California border that they say could harm birds and desert turtles.

Stone-Manning said solar projects on public lands are being considered taking into account environmental concerns.

Solar projects in the West could power 29 million homes

Solar developments were first proposed under the Obama administration, which in 2012 approved a plan to bring utility-scale solar projects to public lands in Arizona, California. , Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Officials have identified nearly 1,400 square miles (3,500 square kilometers) of public land for potential solar leasing.

If all of that land is developed, the office says it could support more than 100 gigawatts of solar power, or enough for 29 million homes.

That’s roughly equal to all the US solar capacity currently available.

The generating capacity of solar farms operating on federal lands is only a fraction of that – just over 3 gigawatts, federal data shows.

In November, the land bureau awarded solar leases on land in Utah’s Milford Flats solar estate. Solar leases are expected to be completed by the end of the month for land at several locations in Arizona.

Solar power on public and private lands will account for about 3% of total US electricity generation in 2020. After construction costs have fallen over the past decade, that number is expected to rise sharply, to more than 20 % by 2050, US Energy Information Administration projects.

Developers warn costs have risen due to limited supplies of steel, semiconductor chips and other materials.


Associated Press journalist Sam Metz of Carson City, Nevada, contributed to this report.

https://kdvr.com/news/biden-administration-calls-for-solar-energy-zones-in-colorado/ Biden administration calls for ‘solar sites’ in Colorado


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