Obama supports renewables projects

Totalling nearly 5 GW, the full-scale projects to benefit from a speedy planning content process span Arizona, California, Nevada and Wyoming, and will generate enough electricity to power about 1.5- million homes.

Additional expedited infrastructure projects “will be announced in the coming weeks”, the White House says in a statement.

Two concentrated solar power (CSP) projects complete the lineup. Decisions will be finalised in December for Solar Reserve’s 100 MW Quartzsite CSP project proposed for Arizona, while RES Americas will have to wait until next year for a decision on its 200 MW Moapa Solar Energy Centre plan.

A deadline of December 2013 has been set for a decision relating to the project, which is being developed in cooperation with the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians on a 2 000 acre site on the Moapa River Indian Reservation, in Nevada.

If approved, the project would employ 100 MW of PV technology and 100 MW of CSP technology. Once constructed, it will be one of the first large-scale solar projects on tribal lands in the US.

US President Barack Obama has given his support to seven “poten- tially and regionally significant solar and wind energy projects”, including a 3 GW wind farm proposal, as part of his We Can’t Wait initiative, proclaiming they will be expedited.

“As part of President Obama’s strategy to expand domestic energy production and strengthen the economy, we are working to advance smart development of renewable energy on our public lands,” says Secretary for the Interior Ken Salazar. “These seven proposed solar and wind projects have great potential to grow our nation’s energy independence, drive job creation and power economies across the west.”

Two of the projects are wind farms with a combined capacity of just over 3.4 GW. In the first instance, federal permit and review decisions are now to be completed by January 2013 for BP Wind’s 425 MW Mohave wind energy project, in Arizona. For the 3 GW Chokecherry and Siera Madre project, in Carbon County, Wyoming, the aim is for final permitting decisions to be made by October 2014. A land-use plan decision is expected in October 2012, followed by a review of a series of right- of-way applications during 2014.

Proposed by Power Company, it is the largest proposed wind farm in North America. If approved, it could generate enough electricity to power over one-million homes. Coming hot on the heels of news that the Production Tax Credit could be extended, Obama’s announcement, at the beginning of this month, is another major boost for the US wind industry.

The remaining projects to be expedited all involve solar technology. Decisions on two photovoltaic (PV) projects, both planned for Riverside County, California, are due by the end of this year: NewEra’s 750 MW McCoy PV array and enXco’s 150 MW Desert Harvest project. In the meantime, a decision deadline of March 2013 has been set for First Solar’s 350 MW Silver State South solar energy gene- ration plant, in Nevada.

The projects announced build on the Obama administration’s record of success in permitting an unprecedented number of utility-scale renewable-energy projects, the White House statement says. In the past three years, the Department of the Interior has approved 31 new projects – more utility-scale renewable-energy projects on public lands than in the past two decades combined, the department notes.