Standing Up Renewable Energy on America’s Lands and Oceans

By helping stand up responsible large-scale renewable energy projects on America’s public lands and oceans, the Department of the Interior is playing a leading role in fulfilling President Obama’s vision for a new energy future.

As America’s principal public lands management agency with stewardship responsibility over 20 percent of the nation’s land mass and 1.75 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf, Interior manages areas with extensive renewable energy potential.

In 2010, we began to unleash the potential of these resources in unprecedented ways, approving historic renewable energy projects, as well as developing strategic plans for a strong future.

Some milestones:

SOLAR

  • We approved nine large-scale solar energy projects in the sunny deserts of California and Nevada, including the first solar project ever permitted on public lands, and what will be the largest solar project in the world when completed.  Together, the projects will provide nearly 3,700 megawatts - enough to power more than one million homes - and create over 7,000 new jobs. 
  • We teamed up with the Department of Energy to develop long-term, landscape level planning for solar energy that will lead to a more efficient and effective process for project permitting and siting. This initiative includes a comprehensive environmental analysis that identifies proposed ‘solar energy zones’ on public lands in six western states most suitable for environmentally sound, utility-scale solar energy production. 

WIND

  • We signed a lease for the Cape Wind energy project, the nation’s first commercial wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf.  With the potential to power more than 200,000 homes in Massachusetts, Cape Wind signals a new era for offshore energy production.
  • We launched a ‘Smart from the Start’ wind energy initiative for the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf to facilitate siting, leasing and construction of new projects. The initiative slashes red tape and will identify priority Wind Energy Areas for potential development. Smart planning and early environmental reviews will pay dividends in spurring responsible renewable wind energy development.
  • We approved a 150-megawatt wind project in Nevada that will generate enough energy to power more than 52,000 homes. This project joins the 29 wind development projects already in production on public lands with an installed capacity of approximately 580 megawatts. 

GEOTHERMAL AND TRANSMISSION

  • We broke ground on the 235-mile One Nevada transmission line which will help deliver renewable energy to consumers. This line will join more than 500 miles of critical, new electric transmission lines crossing Nevada and Idaho that this administration has greenlighted. 
  • We approved two new geothermal projects in Nevada which will harness the earth’s energy to produce about 79 megawatts of energy and generate enough energy to power about 79,000 homes.

Together these projects and initiatives are important, significant steps in our nation’s march toward a prosperous, sustainable renewable energy future.

Ken Salazar is the Secretary of the Interior
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