Tag Archives: Ken Salazar

Smart From The Start

Today U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that his department, along with the Bureau of Land Management, had approved the necessary permits allowing for the construction of the first two solar energy projects ever deployed on U.S. public lands.

“This is an historic day for the U.S. and for California,” said Secretary Salazar speaking on conference call. “I am pleased to be moving forward into the clean energy frontier,” he said also crediting Bob Abbey, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management’s efforts in realizing these projects. “They oversee 245 million acres of public lands that could contribute significantly to the country’s energy needs.”

Suncatcher System by Stirling Energy Systems.

The nation’s first two solar projects on public lands will both be in the Golden State. The 709-megawatt (MW) Imperial Valley project just East of San Diego on 6,360 acres of public lands will generate enough solar power to provide electricity for up to 500,000 homes. The second solar project, in the Inland Empire of San Bernardino County, is a 45 MW solar project on 422 acres of public lands referred to as the Chevron Lucerne project. Combined, these two solar energy projects are expected to create about 950 jobs and infuse $1 billion into California’s economy.

“I am excited to join Secretary Salazar today in announcing the first solar projects to ever get permits on federal land, both of which will be located in the Golden State,” said Governor Schwarzenegger who missed the press conference call because he was stuck on a plane. “Today’s announcement only further cements California’s national leadership in renewable energy development – and it couldn’t have been without our federal partners. Our great partnership is helping to improve public health, grow our green economy, promote energy independence and strengthen our national security.”  – Governor Schwarzenegger

Governor Schwarzenegger has been championing these projects from the start. Barely a week ago when the California Energy Commission approved the larger Imperial Valley project (the smaller Chevron Lucerne project did not require CEC approval), the only thing standing in the way was the permitting from the Bureau of Land Management called “Records of Decision.” Now that these have been granted, the projects will qualify for the Federal Stimulus Funds in the form of 30% tax credit for overall cost of the construction of the projects. The deadline to qualify for those funds is December 31st. Salazar said he expected more projects to be approved by the end of 2010.

Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey said that they will continue with their “Smart from the start,” approach. He said that these first two solar projects are examples of how the permitting process can be streamlined “without cutting any corners for environmental reviews or ecological considerations.” He added that the projects all had extended public input from various stakeholders.

“There are 11 million acres of public lands in California deserts. The area to be disturbed is less than two-tenths of 1%,” emphasized BLM’s Abbey.  Salazar noted that now even NRDC and Sierra Club have come on board with the projects.

Commenting on the 180 permits pending for more solar project developments in the U.S., Salazar said that, “We will be pro-active so we avoid conflicts with ecological aspects we are trying to protect. It’s really no different from what we’ve done with city planning for the past 50, 60 years. We foresee thousands of solar plants sprouting up all over the nation.”  There are currently 1.3 million acres of land under application for solar projects.

The companies that will be developing the Imperial Valley solar project on public lands are owned by an Irish conglomerate, NRT, and are called Tessera Solar and Stirling Energy Systems.

READ Press Release from Department of Interior HERE.

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Greening California, SB X8 34, And Our Renewable Energy Revolution

SB X8 34 is not the latest robotics model. It is a new bill from California.

SB X8 34 authored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, will help further streamline and speed up the permitting and siting process for large-scale renewable energy projects. These are the projects that will provide Californians with jobs and greater energy independence and attract investment to the Golden State.

Today, at the world’s largest operating solar plant, the NextEra Harper Lake Solar Electric Generating System (SEGS) facility in Hinkley, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to announce a new joint program to make it easier to conserve land for endangered species and for developers to build renewable energy projects in California.

Mojave Desert Photo Courtesy Data.gov

“I cannot think of a more appropriate place to underscore that renewable energy is not ‘pie in the sky’ than here at the edge of the Mojave Desert where the largest solar plant in the world is generating clean, cost-efficient renewable energy for California communities,” Secretary Salazar said during a tour of the facility.

There are more than 240 proposed renewable energy projects in California that could produce nearly 70,000 MW of clean energy annually.

These proposed projects throughout the state include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and small hydro facilities.

In addition to touring the NextEra Harper Lake facility today in Hinkley, the Governor and Secretary Salazar toured a 250 megawatt (MW) proposed solar facility, the Abengoa Mojave Solar project. The proposed Abengoa site is seeking funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) and will create over $1 billion of capital investment and more than 1,200 jobs in the local region. The Governor’s action today will help the Abengoa project and other renewable energy projects seeking Recovery Act funding.

“Our bold and innovative vision for California has made us a pioneer in renewable energy, green jobs and environmental protection and, as a result, we are seeing an energy revolution in California,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “California now has more than 240 proposed renewable projects looking to build and create jobs. Today’s action will help speed up the process for some of these large projects to break ground this year and qualify for federal stimulus funding. By working together, we can increase renewable energy development, create thousands of jobs and preserve our state’s cherished natural resources”

To better coordinate the state’s efforts to increase renewable energy and create jobs, the Governor’s Administration will hold The Governor’s Renewable Energy Policy Conference at the University of California, Riverside on Wednesday, March 24.

Solar Farming

SBX8 34 will ensure state regulatory agencies have the resources necessary to focus on the state’s stringent environmental review process and permit renewable energy facilities. The bill creates further efficiencies by:

  • Establishing the Renewable Energy Development Fee Trust, a revolving fund that renewable energy developers can pay into through project-assessed fees determined by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG). The fees will be used for the state and its federal partners to implement project mitigation measures including purchasing private lands related to habitat restoration, and monitoring and transaction costs connected to offset impacts to biological resources from construction.
  • Ensuring the needed environmental reviews occur in a timely manner by authorizing the CEC and DFG to assess application fees on projects at an amount that would fully fund dedicated staff to work exclusively on applications.
  • Speeding up CEC review by allowing for the free flow of information in a more timely manner by removing communication barriers between outside state agencies and CEC commissioners.

The Governor urged the legislature to continue working to help streamline the permitting and construction of renewable energy projects throughout the state in a signing message attached to SBX8 34.

The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan was also formed to create a science-based, stakeholder driven process to identify geographic areas designated for renewable energy development, and conservation and declining species management. This plan is currently scheduled to be completed in 2012 and is meant to provide a long-term road map to development and conservation in the California desert.

The following excerpt by: David Danelski, The Press-Enterprise

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his aides gathered at the graffiti-scarred ruins of an old feed and farm supply store as they waited for U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to arrive for a tour of the future solar energy site.

The crumbling building and more than 1,700 acres around it, mostly former alfalfa fields, have been acquired by Abengoa Solar, which is seeking approval to build a 250 megawatt thermal generation plant about nine miles northwest of the San Bernardino County town of Hinkley.

“It will go as far the eye can see along those transmission lines,” Scott Frier, Abengoa’s chief operating officer, said to Schwarzenegger and Salazar as he showed them a map of project site.

The governor and Salazar also visited the control center for the nearby 160 megawatt solar plant, NextEra Harper Lake Solar Electric Generating System, the largest operating solar plant in the world.

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