Pledges support for expanded wind, geothermal energy development
MILFORD, Utah – Calling it a success story on the New Energy Frontier, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today visited this southwest Utah town to announce an expanded partnership with local leaders and private industry to further the development of wind and geothermal resources.
“We need to share Milford's story with towns and cities across this country because it exemplifies how renewable energy resources can be transformed into a vital economic driver, generating good jobs and steady revenue for communities,” said Secretary Salazar. “The resourcefulness of Milford's citizens, the vision and commitment of local leaders and the enterprising initiative of private industry have made this community a success story on the New Energy Frontier.”
Salazar announced that construction will begin soon on Phase 2 of the Milford Wind Corridor, which Interior's Bureau of Land Management approved earlier this year. When completed, Phase 2 will consist of 68 turbines with the capacity to produce 102 megawatts of electricity. Construction is scheduled to begin this month and completed by the end of the year.
The first phase of the Milford Wind Corridor consists of 97 wind turbines that have been generating commercial power since November 2009, producing 204 megawatts of electricity sold to the Southern California Public Power Authority. That's enough energy to power 44,000 homes. To date First Wind has invested more than $500 million in the Phase 1 project, which has created more than 250 development and construction jobs and resulted in more than $85 million in economic benefit to Utah.
Salazar also announced that the Bureau of Land Management has authorized expanded use of agency lands to assist PacifiCorp's Blundell Geothermal Plant with the addition of two new geothermal wells to increase the plant's flexibility and reliability. Since 1984, the Blundell Geothermal Plant has been tapping wells on lands leased from the Bureau of Land Management in the Roosevelt field to provide electricity for local needs. The plant, which has a capacity of about 32 megawatts of electricity, is being upgraded to improve its efficiency and performance.
In addition, Salazar commended Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service personnel for their outstanding cooperative efforts on a right-of-way grant for PacifiCorp to cross public land with a proposed 160-mile transmission line. Known as the Sigurd to Red Butte No. 2, the 345-kilovolt transmission line would cross lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and the State of Utah, as well as privately-owned lands in several counties. Environmental reviews are underway and construction of the project could begin early in 2012.
During his visit, Salazar met with Milford High School science teacher Andy Swapp and his Wind Kids, who learned the practical math and science involved in measuring and quantifying the wind resources in the area and helped to interest industry and build support for the wind farm proposal within the community. The Secretary also met with Milford's leaders, including County Commissioners Donald Willden, William (Billie) Dalton, and Chad Johnson, who were energized by the Wind Kids' enthusiasm and recognized the capacity of clean renewable wind energy to create new jobs and broaden the community's economy.
Salazar also toured the Milford Wind Corridor Phase 1 project and met with officials of the renewable energy company that developed the wind turbine farm, First Wind, including CEO Paul Gaynor. “This project is an outstanding example of cooperation between federal agencies, the local community and private industry,” Salazar said. “It is the first wind energy development project in the state of Utah involving federal lands and our Bureau of Land Management, which administers those lands, used an innovative, streamlined process to expedite project approval.”
Geothermal resources in Utah offer excellent opportunities for communities and industry to tap this clean, inexpensive source and the Bureau of Land Management has responded to growing interest in this renewable energy by working with state agencies to identify and develop additional deep fields and wells around the state, Salazar said.
Since passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Bureau of Land Management in Utah has issued 48 competitive geothermal leases covering 162,000 acres. In February, our Utah office held a competitive geothermal lease auction that sold all 17 parcels offered in the state and four of ten parcels offered on Bureau of Land Management land in Idaho. More than 60,000 acres of federal land were leased in the sale.
Salazar commended the people of Milford, saying “your New Energy Frontier success story continues to demonstrate to the nation how we can create jobs, produce clean energy to meet the challenge of climate change and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”