Tag Archives: california

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Federal plan to streamline solar development in Arizona OK’d

Federal officials on Friday approved a plan that sets aside 285,000 acres of public land for the development of large-scale solar power plants, cementing a new government approach to renewable energy development in the West after years of delays and false starts.

The government is establishing 17 new “solar energy zones” on 285,000 acres in six states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Most of the land — 153,627 acres — is in Southern California.

At a news conference in Las Vegas, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the new plan a “roadmap … that will lead to faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on public lands.”

The plan replaces the department’s previous first-come, first-served system of approving solar projects, which let developers choose where they wanted to build utility-scale solar sites and allowed for land speculation.

The department no longer will decide projects on case-by-case basis as it had since 2005, when solar developers began filing applications. Instead, the department will direct development to land it has identified as having fewer wildlife and natural-resource obstacles.

The Obama administration has authorized 10,000 megawatts of solar, wind and geothermal projects that, when built, would provide enough energy to power more than 3.5 million homes, Salazar said.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said the effort will help the U.S. stay competitive.

“There is a global race to develop renewable energy technologies — and this effort will help us win this race by expanding solar energy production while reducing permitting costs,” Chu said in a statement.

The new solar energy zones were chosen because they are near existing power lines, allowing for quick delivery to energy-hungry cities. Also, the chosen sites have fewer of the environmental concerns — such as endangered desert tortoise habitat — that have plagued other projects.

Environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy who had been critical of the federal government’s previous approach to solar development in the desert applauded the new plan.

“We can develop the clean, renewable energy that is essential to our future while protecting our iconic desert landscapes by directing development to areas that are more degraded,” said Michael Powelson, the conservancy’s North American director of energy programs.

Some solar developers who already are building projects were complimentary of the new approach, saying it will help diversify the country’s energy portfolio more quickly.

Still, some cautioned that the new plan could still get mired in the same pattern of delay and inefficiency that hampered previous efforts, and urged the government to continue pushing solar projects forward.

“The Bureau of Land Management must ensure pending projects do not get bogged down in more bureaucratic processes,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Salazar said the country four years ago was importing 60 percent of its oil, and that today that number has dropped to 45 percent.

“We can see the energy independence of the United States within our grasp,” he said.

real estate - expanding to california

Valley Real Estate Company Branches Out Of Arizona

Local real estate brokerage firm HomeSmart is continuing to grow by opening franchises in California. The nationwide company based in Phoenix recently began making its way to other cities across the United States offering one of the most attractive business models in the real estate industry.

Since opening in January 2000, HomeSmart has had tremendous success by growing to over 4,300 agents in Arizona. Such unparalleled growth has catapulted HomeSmart to rank as the largest real estate brokerage in the southwestern United States and among the top ten brokerages in the country.

This month, HomeSmart has launched franchises in California including Santa Rosa, Modesto, and Palm Springs, as well as local offices in Ahwatukee and Green Valley. The real estate brokerage also has international operations in Beijing, China. Their goal is to open franchises in the top metropolitan cities in the U.S.

“We are excited to grow nationwide and for the future of HomeSmart,” said Founder Matt Widdows, who ranks in the Top Five National Independent Companies. “Our strong growth has driven us to begin franchising a year ago and we have seen our model and technology work in both small and large markets. We have built our reputation on exceptional customer service with our unique franchise package that gives our real estate brokers and agents a competitive advantage in this industry.”

HomeSmart’s proprietary software puts its franchise partners ahead of the curve. Developed by Widdows and his development team, the reputable systems are proven to save business owners huge costs attributed to web hosting, lead generation and back office systems. This allows the franchise owners to provide the technology to their agents for free while allowing them to keep 100 percent of their commissions. Other advantages to HomeSmart’s franchise program include a virtual receptionist, generous fee structure, and a full suite of branding and marketing products.

HomeSmart prides itself on successfully blending technology with a personal touch, something that is often lost in the industry. They continue to implement new technologies that empower its agents to provide outstanding service to their clients. This summer, HomeSmart will launch a new mobile application allowing residents to access market information at their fingertips. Users can take notes, rank properties, and share properties they like on social networking sites with friends.

The local brokerage donates time and money to many local charities, including Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Back to School 4 Kids, American Diabetes, Make a Wish Foundation and more.

For more information on HomeSmart, its franchise opportunities, and community outreach, please visit www.homesmartinternational.com. Follow HomeSmart on Facebook at www.facebook.com/homesmart.