Solar Plant_CA_45mw_Lucerne Valley_Chevron Energy Solutions

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) • For the first time, federal land managers gave final approval Tuesday for the construction of two large solar installations on public lands that could power hundreds of thousands of homes with renewable energy.

The Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project, proposed by Chevron Energy Solutions of California, will employ photo-voltaic solar technology on 422 acres of public lands and will produce up to 45 megawatts from 40,500 solar panels, enough to power 13,500 to 33,750 homes.

A second project on 6,360 acres in Imperial County is expected to produce 709 megawatts from 28,360 solar dishes, enough to power 212,700 tp 531,750 homes.

Both could start transmitting electricity to the state grid by the end of 2011 or early 2012.

The approval came soon after California regulators passed new rules requiring utilities to derive a third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the most aggressive standards in the U.S.

At full capacity, the two facilities would could create almost 1,000 new jobs, officials said.

“These projects are milestones in our focused effort to rapidly and responsibly capture renewable energy resources on public lands,” U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “It is an historic day.”

The announcement came about five years after solar developers began asking the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for rights to develop hundreds of solar plants on millions of acres of federally owned desert in the Southwest.

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