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Huge Wind, Solar Projects Approved

by Jeff Johnson
October 11, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 41

Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved several record-breaking solar and wind renewable energy projects. Two solar projects backed and partially funded by the Department of the Interior together will generate some 750 MW of electricity. One, on 420 acres, will generate 45 MW with photovoltaic technology; the second, on 6,360 acres, will use solar dish concentrators to generate 709 MW. The projects’ use of large tracts of California desert has raised environmental concerns, and when making the announcement, Salazar stressed that the projects would use just 0.01% of the 11 million acres of California’s public desert lands. The companies involved are eligible for $300 million in federal support, about one-third of the anticipated costs. Salazar also approved a lease sale for the long-delayed Cape Wind energy project five miles off the Massachusetts coast. It would be the first U.S. offshore wind farm. The lease sale covers 25 sq miles; and the project would hold 130 wind turbines, generating 468 MW of peak power and an average capacity of 182 MW. The project also includes 66 miles of buried transmission cable, an electric service platform, and two 115-kV lines running to the mainland power grid.


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