Solar energy has grown exponentially in recent years, but it still only accounts for a small piece of our nation’s power generation. Much larger asset deployment is required in order for the industry to reach true economy of scale, and legislators in Washington are taking notice.
Posted by Ann Rascalli
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doug Lamborn, a Republican representing central Colorado, recently joined other lawmakers in expressing frustration with the utilization of federal land in the West for new energy development.
In particular, his remarks zeroed in on solar energy deployment on BLM-managed lands.
According to the General Services Administration, land remains the solar industry’s biggest need, and the federal government controls nearly 40 million acres throughout all U.S. territories.
Lamborn and others say these spaces would be ideal for California and Colorado solar installers and developers to create new power sources.
But despite the huge tracts of available acreage, the Congressman noted that less than one percent of western land has been marked as a “solar energy zone” — regions which receive expedited approval from the feds.
“Only a tiny fraction of public land is even being considered for this use, and almost nothing has actually been made available,” Lamborn told USA Today.
By comparison, nearly all of Arizona and substantial portions of the entire southwest meet the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s relatively lofty 6 kilowatt-hour-per-square-meter standard for solar energy potential.
For their part, the feds acknowledge the pace of renewables development on public lands has not met their expectations but are confident things will improve moving forward, as they take steps to streamline the permitting process.