White House not the only public property slated for solar panels

Last week’s announcement that the White House would install solar panels and hot water systems the first residence grabbed a lot of attention in the mainstream media and green blogosphere… especially after Presidential staffers rejected a gift of one of the solar panels from the Carter presidency in September.

Obviously, there’s a lot of symbolism in solar technology on the White House. But this announcement overshadowed several others last week about solar installations on public lands that will go beyond symbolic value. After several years of study, the Department of the Interior gave the go-ahead to several California-based projects that could power 337,000 to 843,000 homes. They are:

  • The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System: This project, located in San Bernadino County, will use solar power tower technology. The system will have the capacity to produce up to 370 megawatts of power, and will create 1100 construction, operations, and maintenance jobs.
  • The Imperial Valley Solar Project: Located in Imperial County, this project will use Stirling Energy System’s SunCatcher solar dishes to produce up to 709 megawatts of power, and create over 900 jobs.
  • The Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project: Also located in San Bernadino County, this project will use photovoltaic panels to produce up to 45 megawatts of powers, and create 48 new jobs.

In addition, Secretary Salazar also signed a commercial lease for the Cape Wind project, which has been mired in controversy for years.

While each of these projects will produce “green” energy, there’s always been concern from environmentalists about their impact on the biodiversity of the lands chosen. In each case, developers have comprehensive plans in place to minimize there project’s footprint, to protect indigenous animals and plants, and, in a few cases, to “offset” impact by setting aside other plots of land.

While the White House got the media attention, these plans demonstrate a much more substantive commitment to renewable, home-grown energy production. Love to hear your thoughts on any or all of them…


Image credit: Department of the Interior