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Federal Solar Energy Plans Skip Oregon

Top federal officials Thursday unveiled plans to accelerate large-scale solar energy developments across the West. But as Rob Manning reports, those plans don’t include Oregon.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar named a half dozen states where public lands will be prioritized for utility-scale solar projects.

He mentioned Bureau of Land Management tracts in Nevada and California, but not the vast BLM lands in the sunny southeastern part of Oregon.

BLM officials say that’s because Oregon’s lands have impediments – like inadequate transmission lines.

Rachel Shimshak with Portland-based Renewable Northwest says the solar zones in the Southwest could still benefit Oregon.

Rachel Shimshak: “Remember that in Oregon, we have a variety of solar manufacturers. So the kinds of jobs and manufacturing opportunity that Oregon has to serve projects in the Southwest is high.”

Federal officials say that future large-scale solar investment will likely be focused on the solar “zones.” But renewable energy advocates in Oregon say the announcement does nothing to stop solar investment here.

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