Energy projects must get federal permits if they are built on public land or if their transmission lines pass through a federal right of way. Most wind projects aren't located on public land, but some big U.S. solar and geothermal power plants are being built on public lands in the West.
Before 2010, the U.S. had never approved a utility-scale solar farm on public land. Interior has now approved 16 solar projects totaling about 5,600 megawatts. It is projected that the department would surpass the goal of permitting 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public land next year, three years ahead of a schedule Congress laid out in 2005. (WSJ, 1/2/2012)