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Feds map wind, solar energy zones in Arizona

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New plan focuses on previously disturbed sites with few resource conflicts

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Obama administration’s push to develop more renewable energy resources reached another milestone this week, as the Interior Department finalized designation of 192,000 acres in Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development.

Any subsequent proposals for specific solar or wind energy projects will still need to undergo a site-specific environmental review.

According to the Interior Department, the lands identified in Arizona include previously disturbed sites (primarily former agricultural areas) and lands with low resource sensitivity and few environmental conflicts. Federal land managers in Arizona spent three years analyzing  disturbed land and other areas with few known resource conflicts that could accommodate commercial renewable energy projects. Continue reading

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Wind energy production tax credit gets 1 year extension

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Wind turbines near Lamar, Colorado. Photo courtesy NREL.

Congressional vote may help prevent additional wind energy layoffs in Colorado

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Surprisingly, and in part because of the persistence of Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), the wind energy production tax credit made it through the federal budget fiasco, gaining approval for a one-year extension that could help protect Colorado’s burgeoning renewable energy industry.

After giving 27 speeches on the Senate floor in support of the tax credit, Udall said the extension  gives manufacturers in Colorado and throughout North America the signal they need to create jobs, make capital investments in the United States, and ensure that wind energy remains a strong part of our national energy strategy, although a one-year extension isn’t likely to spur significant long-term investments.

“The extension of the wind Production Tax Credit is excellent news for workers in Pueblo, Windsor, Brighton and across the country. Thanks to the PTC extension, I am confident the wind industry will be able to create jobs and help revitalize our American manufacturing sector,” Udall said. Continue reading

Feds OK massive Wyoming wind energy project

Mapped wind energy potential in Wyoming, by NREL.

Site-specific reviews still to come for what could be a 3,000 MW facility

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — When it comes to renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gases, actions speak a lot louder than words. And despite almost constant carping from environmental groups, the Obama administration has made significant progress in four years.

Most recently, the Department of Interior announced approval of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project site in Wyoming. At completion, the complex could generate 3,000 megawatts of electricity — enough to power almost 1 million homes.

With the approval, the administration has reached its goal of authorizing 10,000 megawatts of renewable power on public lands, marking a sea change in the country’s energy mix. The project developers expect the proposal to create an estimated 1,000 construction, operation and maintenance jobs and generate enough energy to power nearly 1 million homes. Continue reading

Feds hope to speed up permits for renewable energy projects

 

Wind farming in the West.

Interior Department teams up with Defense Department to develop solar and wind on military lands

By Summit Voice

Continuing to push for utility scale renewable energy projects, the Obama administration said this week it will seek expedited review and approval for seven wind and solar projects
that would generate a total of 5,000 megawatts of electricity — providing enough power for about 1.5 million homes.

The federal Office of Management and Budget is charged with overseeing the government-wide effort to make the permitting more efficient, with a target date of October, 2014 for completing the federal permitting for the projects in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Wyoming under a March, 2012 executive order.

Almost at the same time, the Department of Interior and Department of Defense announced an agreement aimed at ncouraging appropriate development of renewable energy projects on public lands set aside for defense-related purposes, and other onshore and offshore areas near military installations. Continue reading

Environment: Bats and wind farms don’t mix

USFS researchers say they might have developed a way to help operate wind turbines in a way that could reduce bat fatalities. PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN WAGNER VIA WIKIPEDIA AND THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

But Forest Service researchers may have a solution …

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Bats are already under the gun from a variety of environmental pressures, including white-nose syndrome, and the profusion of new wind energy facilities isn’t making matters any better.

Bat fatalities at wind farms have become a frequent occurrence, but Forest Service biologists say they’ve developed an effective way to reduce those deaths by using a combination of wind and weather data and devices that can detect the bats’ echo-location calls. Continue reading

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