The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has designated 192,100 acres of public land across Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development.
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 department says.
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 designed 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.
The new 2,550-acre Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone is located in Yuma County near Dateland. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management estimates that the zone could generate more than 20 MW through utility-scale solar projects.
‘This project is a key milestone in our work to spur smart development of solar and wind energy on public lands across the West,’ says DOI Secretary Ken Salazar (who recently announced his resignation).
‘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,’ he adds.
The ROD does not directly authorize any solar or wind energy projects; any proposal will need to undergo a site-specific environmental review, the DOI notes.