A small portion of the 1.4 million acres of public land in Imperial County has been chosen for a proposed solar energy zone, and the federal government is asking for public comments.
The proposed Imperial East Solar Energy Zone — about 5,700 acres located east of Calexico — is land chosen by the Bureau of Land Management as best suited for utility scale production of solar energy, according to a joint Web site between the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Energy and Department of Interior. It is where the bureau would prioritize development of solar projects.
Representatives from the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management were not available for comment Monday, but according to a press release issued late last week a meeting will be held in El Centro to discuss the issue.
The meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at the County Administration Center in El Centro, is the second of 13 meetings to be held throughout six Western states and the District of Columbia.
“Dialogue with the public is critical as we lay out the next phase of President Obama’s strategy for rapid and responsible development of renewable energy on America’s public lands,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in the press release. “This comprehensive proposal and early planning is designed to help site solar projects in the right places and reduce conflicts and delays in developing our new energy economy.”
The study, known as the draft solar programmatic environmental impact statement, has been in the works for two years as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to create a framework for developing renewable energy in the right way and in the right places, according to the press release. The environmental statement identifies areas that are most suitable for environmentally sound solar production.
Throughout California, 339,090 acres were identified, the largest portion being in Riverside County. Imperial County had the smallest acreage of the four sites.
However, the county has plenty of projects in the works.
Imperial County has 14 solar projects going through the county permitting process, according to information from Planning Director Armando Villa. Two more projects have just been received by the county, and another two have been approved.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.
BY THE NUMBERS
Information about proposed solar energy zones
667,400 acres identified as solar energy zones
6 states with proposed energy zones
24 proposed zones
5,722 acres in Imperial County
13 public meetings to be held to discuss the plan
1 meeting set for Imperial County