Interior designates land in Arizona for wind, solar projects

The U.S. Department of the Interior Jan. 18 designated 192,100 acres of land in Arizona for utility-scale solar and wind developments.

The Record of Decision (ROD) for the initiative, known as the Restoration Design Energy Project, ends a three-year, statewide environmental analysis of disturbed land and other areas with few known resource conflicts. The ROD also establishes the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, the third solar zone on public lands in Arizona.

The lands identified in Arizona include previously disturbed sites and lands with low resource sensitivity and few environmental conflicts. Additionally, the selected lands needed to have access to transmission lines and load centers as well as be situated near areas with high electricity demand.

The ROD also sets standards for projects to avoid environmental impacts and establishes a baseline set of environmental protection measures for proposed renewable energy projects.

The new, 2,550-acre Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone could generate more than 20 MW of solar projects, the Office of Bureau and Land Management estimates.

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