(KCPW News) An environmental analysis by the Interior Department and Department of Energy identifies three Utah sites on public lands as potential “solar energy zones.” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the goal is to streamline the permitting process for solar projects in these areas.
“This early planning, in our view, will help us site solar projects in the right places and reduce conflicts and delays at later stages of the development process,” said Salazar.
The three sites are Milford Flats South, Wah Wah Valley and Escalante Valley, all in southwestern Utah. 21 sites in five other western states have also been designated in the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project.
Henry Kelly with the Department of Energy says American energy developers will be able to submit test projects to demonstrate the viability of solar installations on these sites.
“We expect to see these projects that will be demonstrating much higher efficiencies, much lower costs, low water requirements, and better approaches to energy storage,” Kelly said. “The information coming from these demonstrations will give private investors the data they need to convert these demonstrations into major new businesses and new jobs.”
There will now be 14 public meetings on the proposed solar energy zones and a 90-day comment period. The final environmental impact statement is expected to be finished by fall of next year.