The 17 sites, spread across the western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah were highlighted as areas of public land most suitable for solar developments thanks to high irradiation, access to planned and existing transmission lines and low biological, cultural and historical value.
The 303,900 acres of U.S. public land encompassed by the Solar Energy Zones had a block on new mining claims under temporary measures and the Department of the Interiors Bureau of Land Management has approved a public land order which means new mining claims cannot be filed on the areas for 20 years.
Nevada boasts five of the zones with four in Colorado, three in Utah, two each in Arizona and California and with Afton the sole Solar Energy Zone in New Mexico.
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