Following a three-year environmental analysis, the Obama administration Friday designated 192,100 acres of public land in Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development.
The Interior Department has published a formal Record of Decision on the plan, part of which will establish the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, a 2,550-acre area in Yuma County which would be Arizona’s third solar zone on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management estimates the Agua Caliente zone could generate more than 20 MW in solar power.
“This project is a key milestone in our work to spur smart development of solar and wind energy on public lands across the West,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. “Arizona has huge potential when it comes to building a clean energy economy, and this landscape-level plan lays a solid foundation for making sure that it happens in the right way and in the right places.”
Friday’s announcement marks the first statewide plan which identified previously “disturbed lands” for wind and solar development. These lands are primarily former agricultural areas.
Lands identified for solar and wind developed were chosen due to their “low resource sensitivity and few environmental conflicts,” and their proximity to transmission lines, load centers and areas with high electricity demand, Interior said.
The designation announced Friday does not authorize any solar or wind projects and any future proposal will undergo a further environmental review, Interior said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding