Interior Department Flips Switch on First Public Lands Solar Project

May 9, 2012

U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on May 7 flipped the switch to start the first large-scale solar energy facility on U.S. public lands delivering power to consumers. Silver State North is a 50-megawatt plant located 40 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada, that will use photovoltaic (PV) technology to generate enough power for about 9,000 Nevada homes. The plant was built on 618 acres of public land managed by Interior's Bureau of Land Management, after the solar facility underwent full environmental analysis and public review. It was developed by First Solar and is owned by Enbridge.

Prior to 2009, there were no solar energy projects permitted on public lands. Since then, the Interior Department has authorized 29 large-scale renewable energy projects on or involving public lands, including 16 solar facilities, five wind farms, and eight geothermal plants. See the Interior Department press release.