Obama Administration Designates 192,000 Acres in Arizona for Renewables Development
Clean Edge News
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced that Interior has designated 192,100 acres of public land across Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development, furthering President Obama’s ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to expand domestic energy production.
The publication of the Record of Decision (ROD) for this initiative, known as the Restoration Design Energy Project, caps a three-year, statewide environmental analysis of disturbed land and other areas with few known resource conflicts that could accommodate commercial renewable energy projects.
The ROD also establishes the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, the third solar zone on public lands in Arizona and the 18th nationwide. The Solar Energy Zones are part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to facilitate solar energy development by identifying areas in six states in the West with high solar potential, few resource conflicts and access to existing or planned transmission. With the Agua Caliente zone, Interior is delivering on the promise made as part of the Western Solar Plan to identify and establish additional solar energy zones.
Since 2009, the Obama Administration has approved 34 renewable energy proposals for public lands, including solar, wind and geothermal projects. Together, they could generate 10,400 megawatts of electricity, or enough energy to power more than 3 million homes.
The lands identified in Arizona today include previously disturbed sites (primarily former agricultural areas) and lands with low resource sensitivity and few environmental conflicts. Bureau of Land Management lands in Arizona containing sensitive resources requiring protection, such as endangered or threatened wildlife and sites of cultural and historic importance, were eliminated from consideration. Additionally, the areas selected had to have reasonable access to transmission lines and load centers as well as be situated near areas with high electricity demand.