Interior Department Hits Goal for Renewable Energy on Public Lands

October 24, 2012

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on October 10 announced that the Department has reached the President's goal of authorizing 10,000 megawatts of renewable power on public lands. DOI hit the milestone with its finding that the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project site in southeastern Wyoming is suitable for wind energy development. The project is a proposed complex that could generate up to 3,000 megawatts of power. Developers expect the proposal to create an estimated 1,000 construction, operation, and maintenance jobs at peak construction, employ 114 permanent workers, and generate enough energy to power nearly 1 million homes.

The decision authorizes the Bureau of Land Management to proceed with site-specific environmental analyses for the Sierra Madre and Chokecherry wind farms and infrastructures. Additional environmental reviews will be needed for the turbine layouts. The proposed project would consist of two sites encompassing up to 1,000 wind turbines on approximately 219,707 acres of land about 10 miles south of Rawlins. It will be developed in phases and operated by Power Company of Wyoming LLC. When constructed, the wind complex is expected to have a footprint of less than 2,000 acres.

Since 2009, DOI has authorized 33 renewable energy projects, including 18 utility-scale solar facilities, seven wind farms, and eight geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructures that will enable the projects to connect to established power grids. When built, these projects will provide more than 10,000 megawatts of power, or enough electricity to power more than 3.5 million homes. They would also support an estimated 13,000 construction and operations jobs, according to project developers. See the DOI press release.