DOI approves first solar projects under expedited review process


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The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the approval of the first three solar energy projects on federal lands in Nevada under the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Western Solar Plan. The three Nevada projects – Invenergy’s Harry Allen Solar Energy Center, First Solar’s Playa Solar Project, and NV Energy’s Dry Lake Solar Energy Center – are expected to generate between 440 and 480 MW of solar power and create up to 1,900 jobs.

Approved in October 2012, BLM’ Solar Energy Program,or Western Solar Plan, created Solar Energy Zones (SEZs) to access existing orplanned transmission, incentivize development within SEZs, and develop aprocess to consider additional zones. The plan facilitates a streamlined andpredictable permitting process focused on SEZs with the highest resourcepotential and lowest conflicts. Reduced permitting times facilitated bylandscape level planning and upfront public participation increase certaintyfor solar developers, making SEZs more attractive for investment. Non-hardwaresolar “soft costs”—such as permitting, financing, and customer acquisition— is a key goal.

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