First Green Lights For Large-Scale Solar on U.S. Land


Last month, we wrote about 8 of the most exciting solar projects in the U.S. We can now add two more to the list: Tessera Solar’s Imperial Valley Solar Project and the Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project. These two California-based projects are the first utility-scale solar installations on federal lands to get the go-ahead from the Bureau of Land Management.

The projects are large–Tessera‘s $2.1 billion project will generate 709 megawatts of power from 28,360 solar dishes (or Suncatchers, as Tessera calls them), creating enough power for 200,000 homes. The Chevron project will produce 45 megawatts of power from 40,500 solar panels, generating enough energy to juice up 13,000 homes. Chevron refuses to disclose the cost of the plant.

The BLM-approved projects aren’t just good for Chevron and Tessera. They also point to a bright future for the myriad utility-scale solar projects vying for approval on public land. The Chevron and Tessera projects are among 14 proposals for solar installations on public lands that have been fast-tracked by the Department of the Interior–there are, in other words, 12 more proposals that will probably be approved. In total, the government has received 180 permit applications to build on federally owned land in the deserts of the Southwest.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.AS