The US Department of the Interior announced on Wednesday that they had approved a plan to build a 500 MW wind project in Arizona. Upon completion, the wind farm will provide enough electricity to the grid to power up to 175,000 houses.
The announcement comes in the wake of President Obama’s climate action plan, a comprehensive set of plans and actions to reduce US and global carbon pollution and energy inefficiency.
The Arizonan wind project, known as the Mohave County Wind Farm, was proposed by BP Wind Energy North America, and will see 243 wind turbines erected on Federal lands approximately 40 miles northwest of Kingman. The decision paves the way for the provision of right-of-way grants for the use of approximately 35,000 acres of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) managed land as well as another 2,800 of Bureau of Reclamation land. The development includes a 1.2 mile buffer zone to protect nearby nesting locations for golden eagles and an assurance that no turbine will be erected within a quarter-mile of private property.
“These are exactly the kind of responsible steps that we need to take to expand homegrown, clean energy on our public lands and cut carbon pollution that affects public health,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “This wind energy project shows that reducing our carbon pollution can also generate jobs and cut our reliance on foreign oil.”
“The project reflects exemplary cooperation between our BLM and Bureau of Reclamation and other Federal, state and local agencies, enabling a thorough environmental review and robust mitigation provisions,” said BLM Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze. “This decision represents a responsible balance between the need for renewable energy and our mandate to protect the public’s natural resources.”
“I added my signature of approval for this vital project on the same week that President Obama challenged Interior to intensify its development of clean, renewable energy,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. “Reclamation’s hydropower resources are a centerpiece of the nation’s renewable energy strategy. We are pleased to also play a significant role in this important wind energy project.”
With this decision it brings the total of projects approved by the Interior to 46 wind, solar, and geothermal utility-scale projects on public lands since 2009. Upon completion, these projects could provide enough energy to power the equivalent of more than 4.4 million homes and support over 17,000 construction and operation jobs.
Earlier this year the Interior approved another three renewable projects: the 350-megawatt Midland Solar Energy Project and the 70-megawatt New York Canyon Geothermal Project to be located in Nevada, and the 100-megawatt Quartzsite Solar Energy Project to be located in Arizona.
“These projects reflect the Obama Administration’s commitment to expand responsible domestic energy production on our public lands and diversify our nation’s energy portfolio,” Secretary Jewell said. “Today’s approvals will help bolster rural economies by generating good jobs and reliable power and advance our national energy security.”
At the time of this announcement in early June, the Interior had approved 25 utility-scale solar facilities, 9 wind farms and 11 geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure to connect to established power grids since 2009.
“The President has called for America to continue taking bold steps on clean energy,” said Deputy Director Kornze. “Our smart-from-the-start analysis has helped us do just that, paving the way for responsible development of utility-scale renewable energy projects in the right way and in the right places.”
The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management has also identified a further 15 active renewable energy proposals set to be reviewed over the next year. The BLM identified these projects through a process that emphasizes early consultation and collaboration with its sister agencies at Interior – the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service.