Interior Department OKs 520 MW of solar, geothermal projects

The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) gave the go-ahead to 520 MW of renewable energy projects, including two solar and one geothermal plant, on public land in the states of Arizona and Nevada.

Among the projects that got leases on public land are the 350 MW Midland solar energy project to be developed by Boulder Solar Power LLC in Nevada. Creating about 350 construction jobs, the facility will generate enough renewable power for about 105,000 households, when completed.

The second project that secured DOI approval is the 70-MW New York Canyon geothermal plant in Nevada, proposed by TGP Dixie Development Co LLC, part of TerraGen Power LLC.

The 100 MW Quartzsite concentrated solar power (CSP) facility in Arizona, planned by Quartzsite Solar Energy LLC which is a unit of California-based SolarReserve, has also won government consent. This project is expected to open 438 working positions at peak construction and create 47 full-time operations and maintenance (O&M) jobs. The output of the plant will be enough to power about 30,000 households, according to the developer's calculations.

All of the proposed projects have undergone environmental assessment and public comment, the DOI noted. When up and running, the three plants will be able to generate enough electricity to meet the power needs of almost 200,000 households.

Since 2009, the DOI has approved 25 utility-scale solar parks, nine wind power facilities and 11 geothermal systems with the related transmission corridors and infrastructure needed for grid connection. Once operational all these will have a combined capacity of more than 12.5 GW and will produce enough power to supply over 4.4 million homes. In addition, the department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has earmarked 15 more renewable energy projects, to be assessed in 2013 and 2014.

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