To expedite production of renewable energy on public lands while protecting land, water, and wildlife, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar pledged to create four Renewable Energy Coordination Offices, one each in California, Nevada, Wyoming, and Arizona, along with smaller renewable energy teams in New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Oregon. Salazar made these remarks at the American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER 2009 Conference in Chicago.
The renewable energy offices and teams, which will cut red tape by expediting applications, processing, reviews and permitting of renewable energy projects, are one of several initiatives President Obama’s has taken in his first 100 days “to open our doors to wise, responsible renewable energy production on our public lands,” Salazar noted. Interior is investing $41 million through the President’s economic recovery plan to facilitate a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewables on Bureau of Land Management land.
There is strong interest in renewable energy projects from partners in the private sector and this investment will help Interior swiftly complete reviews on the most ready-to-go renewable energy projects. Interior’s Bureau of Land Management has a backlog of some 200 solar energy applications and more than 25 wind project applications in western states. Another 200 locations have been identified where applicants would like to begin site testing for future wind projects.
But the Department now is also opening the way for solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal projects in appropriate areas of our public lands. Americans have an estimated 206 gigawatts of wind energy potential on public lands in the West. An estimated 2,900 gigawatts of solar energy potential in the southwest. And an estimated 1,000 gigawatts of wind energy potential in waters off the Atlantic coast alone.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009