Approves Interior's 24th and 25th major renewable energy projects with Arizona's first solar project and a California wind project; Announces next steps toward offshore wind transmission line
WASHINGTON – Capping three years of efforts to develop renewable energy resources on public lands both onshore and offshore, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced approval of two utility-scale renewable energy projects—one wind and one solar—that, when built, will generate nearly 500 megawatts of power, or enough to power 150,000 homes, and create 700 jobs during peak construction. Secretary Salazar also announced the first major step in developing an offshore wind transmission line on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.
“We have made steady and swift progress in carrying out President Obama's initiative for a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewable energy on public lands,” Salazar said. “We have green-lighted 25 projects in the last two years, including solar, wind and geothermal facilities that are generating good jobs, strengthening local economies and laying the foundation for a sustainable energy future. Together, these projects will produce the clean energy equivalent of nearly 18 coal-fired power plants, so what's happening here is nothing short of a renewable energy revolution.”
The three announcements made today regarding renewable energy:
“This proposal to build a ‘backbone' for an offshore electrical transmission system is an encouraging sign that there is significant interest in developing the infrastructure to support offshore wind development,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We will conduct the appropriate analyses to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of issuing renewable energy right-of-way grants.”Salazar's announcements are the latest in a series of solar, wind, geothermal and transmission facility approvals resulting from Interior's renewable energy program that has focused the Department's resources to prioritize and process existing applications in a coordinated, focused manner with full environmental analysis and public review.
In the past two years, Salazar has used this approach to approve 25 major renewable energy projects on public lands. When constructed, the projects are expected to create nearly 12,000 construction and operational jobs and produce nearly 6,200 megawatts of energy, enough to power 2.2 million American homes. These projects include 15 commercial-scale solar energy facilities, three wind projects and seven geothermal plants.
Both projects approved today underwent extensive environmental review and reflect strong efforts to mitigate potential environmental impacts, such as reducing the wind project's footprint by half and altering the solar project's technology to reduce water usage from the 3,000 acre/feet proposed under the original plan, to about 33 acre/feet under the approved alternative.
“Avoiding impacts to resources is a key priority for us as we stand up renewable energy across the country,” said Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey. “The decision to approve these projects includes requirements to avoid or minimize impacts to cultural resources. For the Tule project, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and BLM worked with the company to minimize potential impacts to golden eagles by requiring intensive eagle studies to guide siting of wind turbines and by including measures to address avian issues if they arise.”
For a fact sheet on Interior's onshore renewable energy program, click HERE
For a fact sheet on Interior's offshore renewable energy program, click HERE