"There will be more process involved and an additional look required to make sure they can proceed, and we have set out criteria to do that," to expedite the process, Salazar said in a conference call with reporters. "If developers come forward with good areas where they think a project will be well situated, they have to do the work. The department will not have done it for them."
Officials have said the plan provides more clarity on how projects can proceed and gives potential developers certainty that they will be working in areas the government considers suited for solar power.
Under Salazar, the Interior department has approved 17 utility-scale projects that, once complete, could produce 5,700 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 1.7 million homes. They would be the first-ever on public lands. The department estimates that between the new variance zones and suitable land identified on the additional acreage, enough electricity for 7 million homes could be produced.
Acreage pre-approved for solar development:
New Mexico: 29,964
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