Interior Plan Expedites Solar Development in West

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- The Obama administration is streamlining the development of large-scale solar projects on public lands by approving 17 vast tracts across the West with the highest power-generating potential and the fewest environmental impacts.

The announcement made Tuesday by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar comes as developers scramble to secure utility-scale solar sites. Salazar said having pre-approved sites will make it easier for developers to proceed.

Map of Solar Energy Zones

Environmental groups said the plan strikes a balance between conservation and development. Solar advocates said they hope it will speed the permitting process.

The zones cover 285,000 acres, with five sites in Nevada, four in Colorado, three in Utah, two each in California and Arizona, and one in New Mexico. Originally 677,000 acres had been considered.


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