Palm Desert meeting to review federal guidelines for solar development

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... Riverside East could be cut down to 147,000 acres under revisions to proposed federal guidelines on solar development on public lands, to be discussed at an open meeting at 7 p.m. today at the Best Western Hotel, 74-695 Highway 111, Palm Desert.

Riverside East is the largest solar zone in the proposed plan, called the Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, which covers solar development on public land in six western states. Two large-scale solar projects are now under construction in the zone -- the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight plant and the 250-megawatt Genesis plant -- with at least seven more in the pipeline, according to figures in the revised report.

Reducing the size of the zone is a good first step, Lamfrom and officials from other environmental groups said, but they continue to push for even more stringent standards for renewable energy development on public land.

“There's been a scattershot approach,” said Jennifer Dickinson, spokeswoman for The Wilderness Society, who believes government policies should be based on the region's future energy needs. "How much power will we need and where? It might not be a smart model to develop where there's not a need.”