The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced approval of the 287-megawatt Soda Mountain Solar Project on 1,767 acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) located about six miles southwest of Baker, California. Soda Mountain Solar, LLC, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bechtel Development Company, Inc.
According to DOI, when fully built, the project will provide enough renewable energy to power more than 86,000 homes, helping meet President Obama’s Climate Action Plan goal of 20,000 megawatts (MW) of power derived from renewable energy projects on public lands by 2020.
Although approved, this project was not without opposition. In the picture above, from 2015, Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert Committee members protested the Soda Mountain Solar project saying that it would disrupt bighorn sheep migration and damage burrowing owl, kit fox and desert tortoise habitat.
Since 2009, DOI has permitted 58 utility-scale renewable energy projects on public lands, including 35 solar, 11 wind, and 12 geothermal utility-scale renewable energy projects and associated transmission infrastructure. All together, these projects could support nearly 15,500 MWs of renewable energy capacity, enough to power about five million homes and representing $40 billion in potential private capital investments.