DOI, BLM approve renewable energy projects

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Outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has approved three major renewable energy projects that, when completed, are expected to deliver 1,100 MW of electricity to the grid.

Two of the projects -- the 750 MW McCoy Solar Energy Project  (one of the largest in the world) and the 150 MW Desert Harvest Solar Farm -- are located in California's Riverside East Solar Energy Zone, which was established by the Interior's Western Solar Energy Plan as the most suitable for solar development. The 200 MW Searchlight Wind Energy Project  will be built on public lands in Clark County, Nevada.

"In just over four years, we have advanced 37 wind, solar and geothermal projects on our public lands -- or enough to power more than 3.8 million American homes. These projects are bolstering rural economies by generating good jobs and reliable power and strengthening our national energy security," Secretary Salazar said in a statement.

The projects include 20 utility-scale solar facilities, eight wind farms and nine geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure to connect to established power grids.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has identified 23 additional active renewable energy proposals scheduled for review in 2013 and 2014, including 14 solar facilities, six wind farms and three geothermal plants.

This summer, the Interior and California agencies are expected to produce a draft -- known as the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan -- of a landscape-level planning effort to streamline renewable energy development in the California desert while conserving natural resources.

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