Salazar Touts Federal Solar Energy Plan In Las Vegas
October 15, 2012

Photo by Veronica Zaragovia
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, right, and Sen. Harry Reid, to his left, talk to University of Nevada Las Vegas students on Oct. 12 after a press conference.

LAS VEGAS -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar finalized a plan in Las Vegas on Friday that allows the Bureau of Land Management to push forward a solar energy program for the southwestern United States.

Salazar calls it the Western States Solar Plan. It identifies solar energy zones on about 285,000 acres of public land that will house commercial-scale development. Private companies can now apply for permits to develop solar energy on public land.

"Bottom line, what this document will do is identify 17 solar energy zones, which are the sweet spots for solar energy development across six states in the United States of America," Salazar said during a press conference at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He spoke before a crowd of about 100 supporters.

With Election Day less than four weeks away, President Barack Obama's administration is promoting its legacy in fast-tracking solar energy development in the U.S.

Here in Nevada, 60,000 acres have been identified as solar zones. Other states to host utility-scale solar projects include Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The bureau says the zones identified have the fewest conflicts with wildlife conservation or tribal interests. According to the Nevada office of the Bureau of Land Management, Nevada lacked solar and wind energy projects before 2008.