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WASHINGTON, August 6, 2021 – In support of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to address climate change and promote renewable energy production, the Department of the Interior announced today it is advancing three solar projects on 4,700 acres of public lands in Riverside County, Calif.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today invited public review on the draft environmental analysis (EA) for the proposed Arica and Victory Pass solar projects, which would construct photovoltaic solar projects that will generate a total of up to 265 megawatts of electricity with up to 200 megawatts of battery storage. Together, these renewable energy projects would result in an estimated combined infrastructure investment of $689 million, $5.9 million in annual operational economic benefit and power approximately 132,000 homes.
The BLM also anticipates making a draft EA for a third project — the Oberon solar project — available in the next few days. If approved, the proposed photovoltaic solar project on 2,700 acres of public lands could generate up to 500 megawatts of renewable energy and power 200,000 homes. Information will be available on BLM’s ePlanning website when the comment period begins.
“Clean energy, including solar projects like these in California, will help communities across the country be part of the climate solution while creating good-paying union jobs,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The Department is proud to help lead the Administration’s all-of-government approach toward its ambitious renewable energy goals, which will boost local economies and address economic and environmental injustice.”
In support of President Biden’s Executive Order 14008, the Department has partnered with other federal agencies to increase renewable energy production on public lands and waters, including a commitment to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and a target goal of permitting at least 25 gigawatts of onshore renewable energy by 2025.
The Arica, Victory Pass and Oberon solar projects are proposed for areas identified as suitable for renewable energy development as part of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is focused on 10.8 million acres of public lands in the desert regions of seven California counties and is a landscape-level plan that streamlines renewable energy development while conserving unique and valuable desert ecosystems and providing outdoor recreation opportunities. The DRECP is a collaborative effort between the BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service, California Energy Commission and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Interior Department recently approved the Southern Bighorn Solar Project and announced that construction began on the Arrow Canyon Solar Project on Tribal lands in Nevada. These two projects will support more than 800 jobs and generate enough electricity to power up to 192,000 homes. In May, the Department also approved the Crimson Solar Project in California, which will invest roughly $550 million and has the potential to deliver enough power to energize approximately 87,500 homes.
The Interior Department and the BLM will continue to engage with Tribal governments, local communities, state regulators, industry and other federal agencies as it evaluates these projects.
For the Arica and Victory Pass projects, the public is invited to attend a virtual public meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 25. Participants must register via Zoom. The public may submit written comments on the issues, potential impacts, alternatives and mitigation measures presented in the Arica and Victory Pass EA by visiting the BLM’s ePlanning website. All substantive comments received by Sept. 6, 2021, will be considered when finalizing the EA.