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Abengoa Mojave Solar Project passes more hurdles

Staff writer

The Abengoa Mojave Solar Project continues to move forward, as the Department of Defense cleared the project as having little to no impact on military missions.

The 250-megawatt project, located nine miles northwest of Hinkley, will use parabolic troughs to collect energy with a regular staff of 60. The project received a $1.2 billion federal loan last month from the Department of Energy, and must meet various criteria before breaking ground Sept. 1. Abengoa CEO Scott Frier said the project is in the midst of getting a permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before it can begin the projected 28-32 months of construction.

The Department of Defense reviewed and cleared 229 renewable energy projects Thursday that have little to no impact on military missions, with 39 in California.

Western states targeted for further federal review of energy programs
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Thursday that the department will draft a supplementary plan regarding the impact of establishing a new solar energy program in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

According to a statement, the department released plans for 24 large-scale solar energy zones in the six states in December 2010 and opened the plan up to public comments. After receiving over 80,000 comments, the department aims to develop “well defined criteria for identifying solar energy zones” and “incentives for encouraging developers to site their projects in the zones, additional surveys of biological and cultural resources in the zones; and a more detailed analysis of transmission.”

The current planned zones within California are Imperial East, Iron Mountain, Pisgah and Riverside East. The second draft, which will be released in the fall, will also be open for public comments.


House Natural Resources Committee passes four bills

The House Natural Resources Committee approved four bills Wednesday regarding renewable energy, in an attempt to streamline regulations and red-tape.

The Cutting Red Tape to Facilitate Renewable Energy Act would require federal agencies to review the impact of completing and not completing a renewable energy program at a specific location before considering alternative locations.

The Exploring Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act would allow all geothermal test holes in the same leased area to be under the same environmental review, instead of requiring new reviews for each site.

The Utilizing America’s Federal Lands for Wind Energy Act and Advancing Offshore Wind Production Act would both allow quicker approval of temporary infrastructure that tests the best locations for permanent windmills on land and at sea.

“The four bills passed by the Committee are a strong step towards fostering an atmosphere of increased renewable energy production on federal lands and waters by removing bureaucratic government obstacles and red-tape,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) in a committee statement.

The Utilizing America's Federal Lands for Wind Energy Act was also sent to the House Agriculture Committee.


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