Desert development divvied up

(Central Valley Business Times)

September 15,2016

Massive solar power farms may be developed on large portions of the California desert under deals announced between the state and federal governments this week.

Called the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, the renewable energy and conservation planning effort covers 10.8 million acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the California desert.

Ultimately a blueprint is to be reached covering 22 million acres of public and private land in California’s desert region, which would be marked for streamlining renewable energy development while conserving ecosystems and providing outdoor recreation opportunities.

The lands specifically identified for renewable energy development by the plan have the potential to generate up to 27,000 megawatts of renewable energy – enough to power over eight million homes.

“Renewable energy is a key part of California’s approach to addressing climate change, and large scale renewable energy projects in the California desert will play an essential role in California meeting climate and renewable energy goals,” says California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas.

The Bureau of Land Management’s Land Use Plan Amendment identifies priority areas for renewable energy development while setting aside land for conservation and outdoor recreation. The plan designates areas with high-quality solar, wind and geothermal energy potential and access to transmission, sited in low conflict areas.

Applications in these areas could see a streamlined permitting process, predictable survey requirements, and simplified mitigation measures, the BLM says

The Interior Department is also considering additional financial incentives for projects located in these areas.

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