SITING RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS IN NEVADA
Weaning our communities and economies from dirty coal and oil and gas is vitally important in the fight against climate change, and the development of renewable energy is a critical component of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avoid the worst consequences of global warming and assist Nevada and the nation with achieving emissions reductions and renewable energy portfolio goals.
Fortunately, Nevada is rich in renewable energy opportunities. The state averages 270 days of sunshine, resulting in a rich potential for solar energy development, and it’s the number-one state in the nation in solar watts produced per capita. Also, active plate tectonics under Nevada result in an abundance of geothermal features, making it second in the nation in generating electricity from geothermal sources, with 550 megawatts of geothermal power under development. And United States Department of Energy studies show that Nevada has wind resources consistent with utility-scale production — wind power being the youngest of the alternative-energy sources utilized in the state. The largest contiguous lower-elevation areas of good-to-excellent wind resources are located in southern Nevada near Las Vegas and near Ely, as well as on higher ridge crests throughout the state.
On Bureau of Land Management federal public lands, there are currently 60 solar, 29 geothermal and 14 wind projects in various stages of the planning and permitting processes.
The Center strongly supports the development of renewable energy production. However, like all projects, proposed renewable energy projects must be thoughtfully planned to minimize environmental impacts. In particular, renewable energy projects must avoid harming sensitive species and habitat and should be placed near areas where the power they generate will ultimately be used in order to maximize efficiency and reduce the need for extensive new transmission corridors. Only by maintaining the highest environmental standards with regard to local impacts and effects on species and habitat can renewable energy production be truly sustainable.
As a spokesperson and advocate for Nevada species, the Center:
- tracks and carefully evaluates proposals for renewable energy projects on federal lands;
- works with willing proponents on developing acceptable design features and to locate projects in appropriate areas, where environmental impacts are minimal;
- provides substantive comments during the National Environmental Policy Act process, which requires projects to undergo environmental analysis and allows for public input; and
- files appeals and litigation to challenge ill-conceived federal decisions on projects particularly harmful to species.