How to Kill (or at least, wound) the Solar Industry in America

Concentrating Solar Power Trough

UPDATE - July 2, 2008
The BLM has reversed its earlier decision and will continue to receive and review applications for utility scale solar power projects while it develops a unified PEIS. Click for the Press Release. It looks like the public comments had a direct influence on the BLM!

In a move that is sure to frustrate solar power proponents, the Bureau of Land Management has announced a moratorium on all new proposals for utility scale solar energy development built on public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah through spring of 2010. The BLM announced the moratorium in a notice published in the Federal Register on May 29, 2008. The BLM states that a Programmatic Environmental Impact Study (PEIS) is necessary to establish bureau-wide environmental policies and mitigation strategies for developing utility-scale solar energy development projects on public lands.

Unfortunately, while the BLM develops a new PEIS for all solar power installations over 10,000 megawatts they are accepting no new proposals for development. Just at the moment that the Solar Power Industry is gaining momentum in the United States a monkey wrench has been thrown into the works. Given the skyrocketing costs and the well-known pollution problems with fossil fuel based power this is a serious setback in moving American to clean, renewable solar energy. The timing of this moratorium is maddening and apparently ill-advised.

What You Can Do
Fortunately, there is still a short time to make your voice heard on the scope of the PEIS. The comment period runs through July 15, 2008 and there is a Public Comment Form available. Written comments or suggestions on the scope of the PEIS can be mailed to: Solar Energy PEIS Scoping, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 S. Cass Ave. – EVS/900, Argonne IL 60439. As well, there are a few Public Scoping Meetings that will be held in Tucson, AZ; San Luis Obispo, CA; and El Centro, CA on July 8, 9 and 10, 2008.

Please be sure to send your comments to the BLM via the website, mail or at a public meeting by July 15, 2008. Developing a unified policy for utility-scale solar power on public lands should not be used as an excuse to kill all new projects for the next two years. Call and write now to let the Bureau of Land Managment and your Congress-person know that you support clean, renewable solar energy in the American Southwest.

More Info:
NYT: Citing Need for Assessments, U.S. Freezes Solar Energy Projects

BLM: Solar Energy Development PEIS

Santa Fe New Mexican: Feds study state’s solar potential

Solar Energy Industries Association

Solar Electric Power Association

New Mexico Solar Energy Association