“This is a very promising initiative – especially for solar since Arizona has some of the best solar resources in the nation that cut across land ownerships,” noted John Shepard, senior adviser for the Sonoran Institute. The BLM is assessing development opportunities on BLM, national forest, state trust, and private lands for solar and wind, both utility-scale and smaller-scale projects.
“RDEP should complement the BLM’s ongoing efforts to develop a comprehensive and environmentally responsible solar program across six states. It identifies another set of low-conflict lands for solar development and we’re encouraging the BLM to continue building on incentives for developers to site their projects on these lands,” explained Alex Daue, Renewable Energy Associate for The Wilderness Society. Details on the assessment conducted for these lands are described in the draft plan.
“Working for an organization dedicated to protecting undisturbed wild places in Arizona, I am very supportive of RDEP’s intent to focus solar development away from such pristine areas,” added Ian Dowdy, Conservation Outreach Associate for Arizona Wilderness Coalition.
All three groups are working with other environmental organizations, solar developers, utility companies, and others to ensure that RDEP meets the twin objectives of encouraging responsibly sited solar development while protecting Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. “I am confident that we can meet both goals,” added John Shepard.
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 www.sonoraninstitute.org.