Sonoran Solar Project Approval Means Much Needed Clean Energy Can Help Power Arizona Homes – 12.20.2011

“At a time when some in Congress have turned their backs on renewable energy, it is important for the public to know that clean energy is working in America,” said Chase Huntley, Director of Renewable Energy Policy at The Wilderness Society.  “What the leadership and staff at the Department of the Interior have accomplished towards meeting Congressional targets for   renewable energy from our nation’s lands and waters is   a paradigm shift. In approving more renewable energy than any administration in history, they have succeeded where others have failed. And, most importantly, they’ve done so clearly understanding that we do not have to choose between renewable energy and our irreplaceable natural heritage.”

The Sonoran Solar Project does not conflict with proposed wilderness areas and limited impacts to wildlife habitat.  The project would also be sited near 500 kV transmission lines and a nearby substation, meaning that less infrastructure will need to be developed from the ground up. The PV technology chosen by the company also drastically reduces water use and land requirements and significantly reduces impacts to wildlife habitat, wildlife movement corridors and washes and floodplains.

“We are excited to see the Sonoran Solar project proposal moving forward with greatly reduced impacts due to the decreased size and water use of the new photovoltaic alternative,” said John Shepard, senior advisor with the Sonoran Institute. “ With BLM approval in hand, we also hope to see NextEra acquire the additional agreements it needs to get this project built and producing clean energy in a timely manner.”

Today’s announcement amplifies the need for Congress to take action to ensure that the solar industry continues to benefit from programs established to help ensure stable financing and support to see utility scale renewables come to fruition.

 “The true measure of success will be projects built, not permits issued—and for that, Congress needs to extend critical tax incentives including the Treasury Grant Program and the Production Tax Credit in any final tax deal,” said Huntley. “But, in permitting these projects and promoting responsible zone-based development of the public lands, the Interior Department is blazing a trail that will pay dividends for years to come.”


The Wilderness Society is the leading public-lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.

The Sonoran Institute inspires and enables community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of western North America. The Institute is a nonprofit organization that is working to shape the future of the West. For more information, visit