To expedite production of renewable energy on public
lands while protecting land, water, and wildlife,
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today pledged
to create four Renewable Energy Coordination Offices,
one each in California, Nevada, Wyoming, and Arizona,
along with smaller renewable energy teams in New
Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Oregon.
"At no time in our history has the need for a
new energy policy been so urgent," Salazar told
members of the American Wind Energy Association
at the WINDPOWER 2009 Conference - the largest annual
wind energy industry event in the United States.
"We import more than two-thirds of our oil, costing
us hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Unemployment
is at eight and a half percent. Carbon emissions
are rising. Our national security is threatened.
And countries like China and India are ready to
cash in by leading the global clean energy economy."
"We must lead the clean energy revolution," Salazar
said. "With millions of new jobs at stake, this
is an opportunity America can't afford to miss."
The renewable energy offices and teams, which will
cut red tape by expediting applications, processing,
reviews and permitting of renewable energy projects,
are one of several initiatives President Obama's
has taken in his first 100 days "to open our doors
to wise, responsible renewable energy production
on our public lands," Salazar noted. Interior is
investing $41 million through the President's economic
recovery plan to facilitate a rapid and responsible
move to large-scale production of renewables on
Bureau of Land Management land.
There is strong interest in renewable energy projects
from partners in the private sector and this investment
will help Interior swiftly complete reviews on the
most ready-to-go renewable energy projects. Interior's
Bureau of Land Management has a backlog of some
200 solar energy applications and more than 25 wind
project applications in western states. Another
200 locations have been identified where applicants
would like to begin site testing for future wind
Interior also has resolved long-standing federal
jurisdictional questions with the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission, enabling the Department to
establish the final regulations to facilitate offshore
renewable energy development. Companies with proposed
projects finally have the certainty of a logical
permitting process. Dozens of applications to build
offshore wind farms, which were stacked up or stuck
in red tape, can now move forward.
If the nation fully pursues its potential for wind
energy on land and offshore, Salazar estimated,
wind can generate as much as 20 percent of U.S.
domestic electricity by 2030 and create a quarter-million
jobs in the process. Salazar estimated that of the
wind projects currently proposed on Bureau of Land
Management lands, almost 1,400 megawatts of new
capacity will be ready for construction by the end
of 2010 - enough to power more than 400,000 homes.
He also estimated that more than 6,000 megawatts
of proposed solar power capacity - mostly in California,
Arizona, and New Mexico - will be ready to go in
the same time frame. That is enough to power 1.8
With the economic recovery plan investments, Interior
also will be able to complete the reviews and permits
for several new transmission projects so they can
be ready for construction by 2010. This new transmission
infrastructure can be part of a new national electrical
supergrid that can help move this clean power not
just to the closest load center, but back and forth
across the country to areas of highest demand.
As steward of one-fifth of the nation's land and
1.7 billion acres of ocean, Interior has long had
a mandate to support responsible oil, gas, and coal
development. Producing these conventional resources
on public lands must and will continue. And Interior
will continue to find better ways to develop and
use these resources, including through carbon capture
and sequestration and other advanced coal technologies,
But the Department now is also opening the way
for solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal projects
in appropriate areas of our public lands. Americans
have an estimated 206 gigawatts of wind energy potential
on public lands in the West. An estimated 2,900
gigawatts of solar energy potential in the southwest.
And an estimated 1,000 gigawatts of wind energy
potential in waters off the Atlantic coast alone.
A clean energy economy also means new jobs and
economic development for rural America, Salazar
noted. "Rural communities are on the leading edge
of the renewable energy frontier. In Colorado, where
I'm from, we're adding thousands of jobs at new
wind turbine manufacturing plants in places like
Pueblo, Brighton, and Windsor. Ranchers across the
eastern plains are earning extra money as wind farms
spring to life. And in my native San Luis Valley
- one of the poorest areas of the country - a new
solar farm has brought hope for a brighter economic