Biden Administration Proposes Expansive Solar Power Development on Federal Lands

The Biden Government is on a roll with its green energy goals and just unveiled a bold new move to boost solar power projects on government-owned land. This big step is part of Joe Biden’s wider plan to strip the U.S. power grid of carbon by 2035 and take on climate change head-on.

Details of the Proposed Plan

The recent update to the policy from when Obama was president aims at 22 million acres in 11 states out West. These areas are perfect for solar power creation. The new policy updates the Bureau of Land Management’s old Western Solar Plan to account for better technology, the rising need for green power, and more interest in building solar setups in states up North.

Important parts of this updated plan:

  • It Now Covers More States: The plan’s reach has grown to include Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. These join the original states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
  • Puts Focus on Easy-to-Reach Lands: The priority goes to lands close by—within 10 miles of—current or future power lines, which makes development smoother.
  • Keeps Sensitive Spots Off-Limits: For the sake of wildlife, fun spots for outdoor activities, historical locations, and really old forests, about 126 million acres won’t be used for development.
  • Public Land Set Aside: They think around 700,000 acres of land everyone shares will be used for solar energy over the next two decades.

Public Involvement and Current Status

The plan is up for public feedback until April 18, and the final version is expected before the year wraps up. The Interior Department has put $4.3 million of Inflation Reduction Act cash toward this new update.

Advancements in Renewable Energy Projects

The Interior Department has been doing well lately; they’ve approved a bunch of new solar projects and transmission lines in states like Nevada, California, and Arizona. Under the Biden team, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has said yes to 47 projects that are all about clean energy. These are big enough to supply power to over 3.5 million houses.

And there’s more in the works: the BLM is looking at 67 renewable energy projects on land out west. We’re talking wind farms, solar power, and geothermal energy, which could add almost 37 gigawatts of electricity to our system.

Nevada’s Critical Role in Renewable Energy Development

Nevada plays a pivotal role in this plan, with up to 18.3 million acres identified for large-scale solar development. The state, which manages 48 million acres of land, could see more than 38 percent of BLM-administered land opened for potential development.

Conservationists express concerns over the potential impact on Nevada’s natural habitat and the significant transformation this could bring to desert public lands.

Current Solar Projects in Nevada

Nevada is currently advancing several solar projects:

  • The Libra Solar Project in Mineral and Lyon counties aims to generate and store up to 700 megawatts of energy.
  • The Rough Hat Clark County Solar Project, with a potential addition of 400 megawatts of energy and a 700-megawatt battery energy storage system.
  • The Dry Lake East Energy Center Solar Project northeast of Las Vegas, planning a 200-megawatt facility with 600 megawatts of battery storage.
  • The Dodge Flat II Solar Project in Washoe County could generate up to 200 megawatts of energy on approximately 800 acres.

Impact on the Environment and Wildlife

Environmental experts and groups dedicated to protecting nature are worried about how big solar projects could hurt public lands. They are calling for a careful way of doing things that will protect delicate ecosystems, places where animals live, and historic areas. The plan tries to solve these worries by not allowing projects in the most important spots and choosing places with less risk to the environment.

Economic and Energy Implications

Developing more solar energy could bring big money benefits, like creating jobs in the green energy field and making our energy supply more secure. The strategy helps us depend less on oil and gas and fights against climate change by adding different types of energy to what the country uses.

Conclusion

President Biden’s team is all-in on green energy, taking active steps to refresh the Western Solar Plan and say yes to new solar projects. This move shows the administration’s promise to switch to an energy system run on renewables and tackle the problems of climate change. For more information, please visit the Department of the Interior’s website.

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