Southern Colorado could someday be the site for four large-scale solar-energy facilities, according to a plan by the United States Department of Interior that was unveiled this week. As part of what it calls "Solar Energy Zones," the interior department will offer incentives for solar developers to cluster projects on 285,000 acres of federal land across six western states as a way to boost the production of solar power throughout the U.S.
Colorado's portion of the project is relatively small—only 16,309 acres—but will help facilitate "faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on America's public lands," Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in a statement. All of the Colorado land is in the San Luis Valley, and the state's largest energy zone would be at Antonito Southeast, a nearly 10,000-acre site near the New Mexico border in Conejos County. The other Colorado sites are Fourmile East, a 2,900-acre area in Alamosa County; Los Mogotes East, a 2,650-acre area in Conejos County; and the 1,060-acre DeTilla Gulch site in Saguache County.
Of the states chosen for the 17 Solar Energy Zones, California has the largest allotment, with a little more than 153,000 acres. Nevada, at roughly 6,000 acres, has the smallest.
The Los Angeles Times reported this week that solar facilities on public lands could generate nearly 24,000 megawatts of power within 18 years. The solar energy plan will be finalized after a 30-day comment period.
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