The federal government will hold public scoping meetings to launch a broad-scale analysis of solar energy development on public land in six Western states, including California.
The idea is to gather public input on the environmental, social and economic impacts of solar power plants — the most active category of renewable-energy projects planned on federally-managed lands — including those in California's desert areas.
The California Energy Commission will coordinate the participation of state government agencies in this joint assessment by the U.S Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Additionally, the Energy Commission and the BLM are conducting a joint California Environmental Quality Act and National Energy Policy Act review of applications for solar thermal plants 50 megawatts and larger on BLM-managed lands in California.
The three public scoping meetings scheduled in the state are in:
Riverside – June 16, Courtyard by Marriott, 1510 University Ave., starting at 6:00 pm.
Barstow – June 17, City Council Chambers, 220 E. Mountain View St., starting at 6:00 pm.
Sacramento – June 19, Sacramento Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard St., starting at 6:00 pm.
The BLM, now faced with at least 130 proposals to build solar and other renewable projects in California's deserts, has called a timeout in accepting new right-of-way applications for solar projects to do a joint Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) with the DOE.
The PEIS will help balance the rising demand to tap renewable energy resources in California's arid areas while maintaining the value of desert land as habitat for plants and animals. The BLM said "measures adopted as a result of the PEIS will provide consistency and certainty for solar energy development and will help expedite environmental analysis for site specific projects in the future."
Aside from California, the BLM and the DOE will also conduct public scoping meetings in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah as part of their ongoing effort to increase domestic energy production and ensure greater energy security.