Renewable Energy-Focused Projects Have Game Changing Potential for the American West
Permitting Council Press Office (Media@fpisc.gov)
NEVADA (April 29, 2022)- The Permitting Council recently completed a tour of potential renewable energy-focused infrastructure projects in Nevada. If permitted, these projects could change the renewable energy landscape in the state, delivering on the clean energy goals outlined in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“Our visit to Nevada was eye opening, as we saw firsthand the possibilities of potential wind and solar renewable energy projects on the environment and the people of the surrounding communities,” said Christine Harada, Executive Director of the Permitting Council. “Tours like this one are an important part of the work of the Permitting Council, as we seek to understand the challenges associated with the permitting process.”
While in Nevada, the Permitting Council team visited several projects currently on the Federal Permitting Dashboard, including Yellow Pine Solar, Gemini Solar and Bonanza Solar:
- Yellow Pine Solar Project: This project is a 500-megawatt photovoltaic utility scale solar farm located outside of Clark County, NV. When constructed, this $860 million-dollar project could create 1,200 new construction jobs.
- Gemini Solar Project: Gemini Solar is a $1 billion-dollar renewable energy project that could create 900 temporary jobs and 19 permanent jobs. When constructed, this 690-megawatt solar farm will be the largest solar project in the U.S. Phase one of the project would produce 440 megawatts of power and generate power for the entire state of Nevada. Phase 2 would add 250 megawatts of capacity and connect the farm to an existing substation to provide power to the states of California, Arizona, and Nevada.
- Bonanza Solar Project: If permitted, this $480 million-dollar project would feature a 600-megawatt photovoltaic solar generation facility.
In addition to getting a better understanding of the potential benefits of each project, this tour was also an opportunity to understand the possible risks to the local community and environment if these projects become a reality. While in Nevada the Permitting Team met with the Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Leadership to determine any possible sensitive cultural and historic resources that could be impacted by the Gemini Solar Project. The meetings also provided environmental information on the estimated 220 Mojave Desert tortoises in the area. Proposed plans would involve moving the tortoises out of the project zone during construction.
The Permitting Council plans to return to Nevada as the permitting process continues, in order to address further environmental justice concerns affecting communities impacted by the potential projects.
About the Permitting Council
Established in 2015 by Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41), the Permitting Council is a unique Federal agency charged with improving the transparency, predictability, and outcomes of the Federal environmental review and authorization process for certain critical infrastructure projects. The Permitting Council is comprised of the Permitting Council Executive Director, who serves as the Council Chair; 13 Federal agency Council members (including deputy secretary-level designees of the Secretaries of Agriculture, Army, Commerce, Interior, Energy, Transportation, Defense, Homeland Security, and Housing and Urban Development, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chairs of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation); and additional council members, the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The Permitting Council coordinates Federal environmental reviews and authorizations for infrastructure projects that meet certain criteria and apply to participate in the FAST-41 program. These projects are in the conventional energy production, renewable energy production, electricity transmission, surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resource, broadband, pipelines, manufacturing, mining, and carbon capture sectors. The FAST-41 program seeks to maximize predictability and positive environmental and community outcomes through:
- Transparency into the Federal environmental review and permitting process, including all major steps and requirements needed to site, construct, and commence operation of a FAST-41 covered project.
- Early identification, elevation, and resolution of potential risks and conflicts that may arise during the Federal environmental review, permitting, and decision-making process.
- Posting and maintaining transparent, publicly accessible permitting timetables on the Federal Permitting Dashboard.
- Clear and regularly updated schedules for completion of each stage of Federal environmental review and permitting, which are coordinated and synchronized among Federal agencies and participating states.
FAST-41 does not dictate project-related outcomes or affect the level of environmental review a project receives. The statute instead requires only transparency and deliberate coordination of Federal effort in making environmental review and permitting decisions. FAST-41 coverage expressly does not alter or supersede any applicable statutory or regulatory requirement, environmental law, regulation, required review process, or public involvement procedure. FAST-41 coverage does not predetermine the outcome of any Federal decision-making process with respect to any covered project, or mandate completion of FAST-41 project reviews before any other project reviews.