This fall, the federal government began putting serious muscle behind solar energy development on public land in the Southwest. In the past few months alone, the Interior Department has given the nod to nine large-scale solar farms in California and Nevada.

The feds have had good intentions to kick-start renewable energy development on public land for quite some time. The 2005 Energy Policy Act called for 10,000 megawatts by 2015. But until this fall, not a single solar project had been approved on federal land.

The nine projects to get the green light so far are significant. Together they could generate almost 4,000 megawatts – enough to power more than a million homes. But they’re likely only the beginning. In mid-December, Interior released a 10,000-page document that, among other things, designated 24 solar energy zones in six southwestern states.

In this episode of High Country Views, assistant editor Cally Carswell talks with Judith Lewis, a High Country News contributing editor, about big solar's march onto public land.

 

 

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