The Obama administration has been signing off on the development of utility-scale solar power on public lands left and right, and now the first of those big projects has come online.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar was on hand to “flip the switch” on the Enbridge Silver State North Solar Project in Clark County, Nev., earlier this month. The 50-megawatt (MW) project, 40 miles south of Las Vegas, will use photovoltaic (PV) technology to power nearly 9,000 Nevada homes. The project is owned by Enbridge and was developed by First Solar.
Pre-Obama, no big solar energy projects had been permitted on public lands. But according to the Interior Department, Silver State North — approved by Salazar in October 2010 — is one of at least 28 renewable energy projects approved for construction on or involving public lands, including 16 solar plants, five wind farms and eight geothermal plants.
Once completed, these projects are expected to provide more than 6,500 MW of electricity to communities across the west, powering more than 2 million homes. Silver State North will also help Nevada move toward its goal of producing 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.