Interior Department OKs Renewable Energy Projects in California, Oregon
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced on December 29 the approval of two renewable energy projects—a solar plant in California and a wind farm in Oregon—that will be built on private lands and will use power lines that cross public lands to connect to their respective power grids. When built, the projects will deliver 379 megawatts of power, enough to power 112,500 homes.
In California, the Centinela Solar Energy Project is a 275-megawatt solar energy power plant that will be located on 2,067 acres of previously disturbed private land near El Centro, California. Interior approved the right-of-way for 19 acres for the power line on public land, and Imperial County gave a green light to the solar power plant on December 27, 2011. The project would support at least 367 jobs and deliver enough electricity to power about 82,500 homes. In Oregon, the North Steens Transmission Line Project is a 44-mile, 230-kilovolt power line that will carry power from a proposed wind power project. The wind project, proposed on private land near Diamond, Oregon, would generate 104 megawatts, enough to power about 30,000 homes.
Both projects underwent extensive environmental review, and they reflect strong efforts to mitigate potential environmental impacts, such as requiring funding for the acquisition of 80 acres of additional habitat for the flat-tailed horned lizard in California and implementing requirements that minimize audio and visual impacts from the Oregon project. See the DOI press release.