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3 West renewable energy projects get green light

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Three large-scale renewable energy projects have been approved for construction on public lands in California and Nevada, federal and state officials announced on Wednesday.

In a joint press conference in San Francisco, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Gov. Jerry Brown announced that the final regulatory approvals were given for two solar projects in Southern California and a wind farm in Nevada.

Once built, the three projects would produce enough energy to power 340,000 typical homes and were expected to create hundreds of jobs, the Interior Department said.

Brown said the project approvals were important because they show state and federal governments can work together to "do something significant."

"Climate change is on the way and we've got to do something about it," Brown said.

The McCoy Solar Energy Project and Desert Harvest Solar Farm were proposed in 2011 in California's Riverside County. The Searchlight Wind Energy Project was first proposed in 2008 on land in Nevada's Clark County.

These projects would help California achieve goals set under its global warming law, AB 32, which requires utilities to derive a third of the energy delivered to consumers from renewable sources by 2020.

All told, Interior said it had now approved 37 renewable projects on public lands that have the potential to power nearly 4 million homes at full capacity.

"California is not just leading the United States of America, but leading the entire world today in what we are doing with renewable energy," Salazar said.