And then there were 24.
After initially casting a net over vast swaths of the western US in its search for large solar energy power plant sites, the federal government has narrowed the candidates to what it currently considers the best 24 sites, in 6 states. This site selection process is part of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement being conducted by the Dept. of Energy and the BLM.
The 24 sites have been selected on the basis of factors such as good solar potential, relative proximity to existing or potential energy transmission corridors, and the perception of the fewest conflicts with existing land uses and the natural environment.
Work will now turn toward closer scrutiny of the 24 sites, and more detailed environmental reviews, with periodic acceptance of public comment during those efforts. The public comment period for this step of the process ends July 30, 2009.
The sites include:
-- 3 in southwestern AZ
-- 4 in southeastern CA
-- 4 in south-central CO
-- 3 in south-central NM
-- 7 in southern NV
-- 3 in southwestern UT
Detailed maps identifying the 24 sites are available at:
Review of, permitting for, and initial steps for construction of solar development on at least some of the 24 parcels may be completed by late 2010.
There also are a number of related efforts that were noted in the June 29, 2009, Dept. of Energy press release  announcing the 24 sites that could be tied into your coverage, such as:
- expedited reviews of existing and future industry solar energy proposals on sites throughout the western US
- establishment of alternative competitive or noncompetitive procedures for processing new solar applications in the 24 areas
- establishment of four new Dept. of Interior renewable energy coordination offices in AZ, CA, NV, and WY
- opening of a number of new solar energy permitting offices
- imposition of a 2-year moratorium on new mining claims that could jeopardize solar energy development on any of the 24 sites
- amendments to BLM land use plans
For information on a related effort addressing renewable energy zones that is being managed by the Western Governors Association and the Dept. of Energy, see the TipSheet of Feb. 18, 2009. 
For information on a parallel Dept. of Energy effort addressing energy transmission corridors, see the TipSheet of May 28, 2008.