|NV Poised for Solar Projects on Federal Lands (Public News Service, 10/11/10)|
Public News Service - NV, October 2010
October 11, 2010 LAS VEGAS - Last week, California became
the first state to get approval for solar projects to be built on
federal lands, but Nevada is not far behind. Three Nevada projects are
expected to be far enough along to qualify for federal stimulus funding
before it runs out at the end of the year. They are Amargosa Farms in
the Amargosa Valley, Crescent Dunes near Tonopah and a NextLight solar
plant at Boulder City.
Greg Seymour, renewable energy program coordinator for the Nevada Wilderness Project,
says his group advocates a method known as "Smart from the Start" to
select the sites. The goals are to forge agreements up front to minimize
environmental damage and legal challenges, and to keep Nevada looking
"We're hoping to pick locations that are near communities or other
industrial areas or near degraded locations, so that the really rural
areas continue to be rural. They hold the historic and natural character
that Nevada's famous for."
Siting solar plants closer to towns makes the power cheaper to transmit,
Seymour explains, and when all sides agree on a site early in the
process, it also saves time and money.
Job creation has been touted as a big benefit of renewable energy. Long
before construction begins, there is already an economic impact to the
state, he adds.
"Those environmental companies have hundreds of employees - biologists,
archaeologists, chemists, hydrologists and so forth - who are getting
paid to do this work by the developer. So that money is already
circulating. Those are not federal jobs; those are private-sector jobs
that are paid for with private funding."
Seymour says more than 80 solar and wind permit applications have been
filed around the state. Not all will get the backing they need to become
reality, but he points out that in the rush to develop them, the
effects on wildlife and public lands could be substantial, without
environmental sensitivity up front.
More information about the solar developments now underway is available at www.wildnevada.org and www.doi.gov.
Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NV