U.S. Establishes Renewable-Energy Zone on Public Land in Arizona

The U.S. identified about 192,000 acres of government-owned land in Arizona that are suitable for commercial-scale solar and wind farms.

The agency also established the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, 2,550 acres in the state with strong sunlight and few resource conflicts that are well-suited for solar projects, according to a U.S. Interior Department statement today.

Agua Caliente is the third solar zone in Arizona and the 18th in the nation. Establishing such areas will facilitate development by identifying sites where projects are unlikely to face environmental hurdles and other potential problems.

Creating zones for renewable energy “lays a solid foundation for making sure it happens in the right way and the right places,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in the statement. The agency is working with environmentalists, local communities, American Indian tribes and other groups “to reduce potential resource conflicts and expedite appropriate projects.”

The U.S. is promoting wider use of renewable energy to reduce consumption of foreign oil and create clean-energy jobs, Salazar said. The agency has approved 34 utility-scale wind, solar and geothermal projects on public land since 2009 with more than 10,400 megawatts of capacity.