Interior secretary confirms renewable energy plan for Arizona that guides development away from sensitive wildlands

Jan 18, 2013
After a year-long process, the Department of Interior and the Arizona Bureau of Land Management announced a final decision and plan for renewable energy development in Arizona.

The Record of Decision for the Arizona Restoration Design Energy Project (RDEP) is a forward-thinking planning initiative that will help to guide and incentivize low-conflict renewable energy development in Arizona.

The RDEP includes a statewide identification and prioritization of previously disturbed and low-conflict lands appropriate for renewable energy development.  This proactive approach will help minimize negative impacts to sensitive wildlands and wildlife habitat and will avoid and reduce conflicts between companies, government agencies and conservationists that can result in costly project delays.

We commend the Arizona Bureau of Land Management for undertaking the Restoration Design Energy Project and showing that with adequate planning and public participation we can find suitable places for development as well as lands companies should steer clear of,” said Mike Quigley, Arizona Wildlands Campaign Coordinator at The Wilderness Society.  “The existing and proposed transmission lines are a particularly important and challenging part of the equation when it comes to where to site and prioritize renewable energy development.  Because of this, we encourage the BLM to formally continue the dialogue with key stakeholders and work to improve how this element is addressed as RDEP evolves.”   

Key details of the plan of importance to conservationists include:

  • Incentives for development in the Renewable Energy Development Areas (REDAs) identified in RDEP, such as amending all of the resource management plans to be consistent with these future renewable energy development priority areas;
  • Proactively integrating water availability and conservation into the identification of REDAs, and the BLM will require water-related design features that are consistent with water availability at any given project site

 “We advocate that RDEP should continue to be refined as it is used and we learn more about responsible renewable energy development,” said John Shepard, Senior Adviser at the Sonoran Institute. “If effectively implemented, it could serve as a model for BLM to replicate in other states and prevent some of the conflict we have seen on the ground.”

Mike Quigley
(520) 334-8741