UPDATE 1-U.S. approves 3 major renewable energy projects in West
March 13 (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday approved three large renewable energy projects in the U.S. West, including what will be one of the world's largest solar developments, that combined will produce enough energy to power 340,000 homes.
The projects, to be built mostly on federal lands in California and Nevada but funded privately, were announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at a press conference in San Francisco.
The approvals were for two solar and one wind projects, including NextEra Energy Inc's 750-megawatt McCoy Solar Energy Project near the southern California city of Blythe in Riverside County that stands to be one of the largest solar developments in the world.
The other two projects are the 150-megawatt Desert Harvest Solar Farm proposed by EDF Renewable Energy, also in Riverside County, and the 200-megawatt Searchlight Wind Energy Project in Nevada, south of Las Vegas. Searchlight, which is being developed by Duke Energy Corp, will use Siemens wind turbines.
Both solar projects will use photovoltaic solar panels.
Wednesday's action brings the total number of renewable energy projects approved by the administration to 37 - including 20 solar facilities, eight wind farms and nine geothermal plants with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure to connect to established power grids.
"That's a lot of power, and these projects now are becoming the examples to the rest of the world on what can be done with renewable energy," Salazar said during the signing ceremony in San Francisco.
The two California projects are located in one of the nation's 17 solar-energy zones - areas the administration has identified as well suited for solar energy projects due to high levels of sunlight, proximity to transmission lines, and limited impact on wildlife in the area.
"They are the blueprint, the bible if you will, of where solar energy will go on public lands in the years ahead," Salazar said.
The renewable energy zones encompass 285,000 acres of public lands across six western states.
California Governor Jerry Brown said the new projects will advance the state's position as a leader in the fight against climate change.
"We have a lot of challenges in this country, a lot of them, but climate change is on the way and we've got to do something about it," Brown said.