WASHINGTON - The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Large-scale Solar Association (LSA) submitted comments on the Supplemental Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for solar energy development in Southwestern states. The draft PEIS was issued by the Bureau of Land Management in the U.S. Department of the Interior.
"In his State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out an agenda that calls for significant development of renewable energy on public lands," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. "The solar industry is up to the task. But project developers need clear rules of the road that balance the need for flexibility to build solar power plants outside of designated Solar Energy Zones with responsible stewardship of public lands, resources and wildlife. These are not mutually exclusive objectives and we look forward to continuing work with stakeholders."
The comments submitted Jan. 27 include a number of key principles critical to development of utility-scale solar power plants on public lands:
- Flexibility for solar power plants to be responsibly developed outside of designated Solar Energy Zones
- Near-term identification of new Solar Energy Zones suitable for project development
- Coordination of transmission build out in areas where solar energy development is occurring
- Continued allotting the resources and staff necessary for BLM staff to efficiently process pending project permit applications.
"The U.S. Southwest is home to some of the best solar resources in the world. President Obama has recognized this enormous potential to enhance our energy security by settings a goal to permit 10 gigawatts of additional renewable energy projects on public lands by the end of this year. But as they say, 'the devil is in the details,' and it is absolutely critical that we get the PEIS right," Resch added.