Dec 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Biden administration approves 2 solar projects in California

An illustration of the Arica and Victory Pass solar projects near Desert Center in eastern Riverside County.

Photo: Bureau of Land Management

The Biden administration announced Tuesday it has approved two major solar projects on federal land in California's desert and moved to solicit interest in more solar power developments in other Western states.

Why it matters: The administration is using federal authority to press ahead with its clean energy plans after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he would not support President Biden's centerpiece climate and social policy legislation, per the New York Times.

The big picture: The Bureau of Land Management approved the Arica and Victory Pass solar projects on federal land in Riverside County, Calif., which have a combined infrastructure investment of about $689 million, per a BLM statement.

  • The two projects will be run by the San Francisco-based developer Clearway Energy and generate up to 465 megawatts of power with up to 400 megawatts of battery storage — enough to power some 132,000 homes.
  • A third California solar farm planned for 500 megawatts is nearing final approval, according to an Interior Department statement.

Meanwhile, the BLM is "soliciting interest for utility-scale solar energy development on nearly 90,000 acres of public land located across Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico," the Interior Department said.

What they're saying: "Renewable energy projects like Arica and Victory Pass on public lands create good-paying jobs and are crucial in achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035," BLM director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement.

  • Interior Secretary Deb Haaland spoke of the clean energy provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that Biden signed into law last month when a reporter asked her on Tuesday about the stalling Build Back Better Act legislation, AP reports.
  • "We fully intend to meet our clean energy goals," Haaland added.
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