24 tracts of federal land to be studied for solar power

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Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior Ken Salazar announced today that 24 tracts of federally owned land, including nearly 21,000 acres in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, will be studied as possible solar power providers.

Known as Solar Energy Study Areas, the lands will be evaluated for their environmental and resource suitability for large-scale solar energy production.

The areas cover 670,000 acres in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah.

The three areas in Colorado’s San Luis Valley could generate up to 4,182 megawatts of solar power, department officials said.

The areas will be looked at as part of an existing solar-power environmental impact study the department is conducting in six Western states. The in-depth environmental review of the 24 tracts is being paid for with money from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

The department’s Bureau of Land Management has received 158 applications for solar power projects on federal lands in the West, including one application for a Colorado-based solar power plant capable of generating up to 150 megawatts of solar power.