Energy remains a critical resource for Arizonas this week as a 20-year drought continues across the Southwest. But planning multiple pending solar projects in Mojave County requires extensive use of land, the county’s second most precious resource.
The Mojave County Board of Supervisors voted this week to direct officials to draft a resolution banning future utility-scale renewable energy projects on private property throughout the county. This decision addresses concerns about how such future projects may affect the county’s natural landscape and how such projects may interfere with other potential uses. was decided on the basis of
This month, Mojave County Superintendent Travis Lingenfelter announced a moratorium on new renewable projects throughout Mojave County through 2023 as county officials investigate the potential impact these projects could have. proposed. Lingenfelter said on Monday that the rise in renewable energy projects is one of the biggest shifts in land-use patterns in US history.
Lingenfelter: Residents concerned about land needed for future projects
Ringenfelter said multiple utility-scale renewable energy projects requiring tens of thousands of acres of land are currently being considered in Mojave County. Whether that’s good for the county remains to be seen, Lingenfelter said.
“These projects include utility-scale hydrogen, solar and wind projects proposed on private as well as public lands,” Lingenfelter said on Monday. “Many Mojave County residents have expressed serious concerns about this utility-scale development.”
At about 13,460 square miles, Mojave County is the fifth largest county in the United States, but only about 10 percent of its land is privately owned, according to Lingenfelter. With so much complexity about how these projects will affect the future and little understanding of the long-term impact of such projects on local residents, Lingenfelter said county officials proposed a one-year moratorium on such projects, to give the government sufficient time to consider and investigate. Do some research on the subject before making informed decisions about future renewable energy development.
Western Arizona is now a prime real estate for renewable energy companies throughout the Southwest. And while that interest may come with an influx of economic potential to the county, implementing those projects will ultimately require tens of thousands of acres of county land. Together, the three projects proposed for construction on BLM land in Mojave County could span more than 13,000 acres. County regulators drafted a letter of opposition to the projects last month.
Mojave County Superintendent Hildy Angius agreed this week that a moratorium on future renewable energy projects may be warranted.
“Things are moving very fast between the federal government and the private sector,” Angius said. “I think it’s a good idea to stop, take a breather, strategize, and decide what you want Mojave County to be. You can’t say, “What have we done?”
Suspension could hamper county growth, officials say
Mojave County will continue to grow in the near future, according to Mojave County Superintendent Gene Bishop. But a moratorium on new renewable energy projects could slow that growth.
“I think it’s a good thing to curb growth,” Bishop said Monday. “However, this moratorium action cites the negative impact of Mr. Biden’s business-scale renewable energy policy. will only be enforced.”
Golden Valley-based Griffith Energy said this week, citing potential adverse effects on the company’s local investments and concerns about how such a suspension would affect the region’s renewable energy infrastructure. , drafted a letter opposing the proposed suspension. But the mojave county economic development director, Tami Ursenbach, said the moratorium could impede economic growth in the county.
“One of the challenges we have is that our county doesn’t have enough electricity,” Ursenbach said. “One example is[Kingman-based]Nucor Steel wanting to expand their business. We are considering hiring at least 100 more employees, who will leave Mojave County once this moratorium is implemented.”
Other utility companies, such as low-emission energy companies, may not be able to come to Mojave County, Ursenbach said.
Why are renewable energy projects coming to Mojave County?
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Arizona’s hydroelectric plants (such as the Davis Dam in Mojave County) will generate about 5% of the state’s energy in 2022, the lowest amount in 30 years.
As Lake Mead’s water levels continue to fall, it could threaten energy production at the Hoover Dam, which powers 1.3 million people across Arizona, Nevada and California. Resolving water shortages across the Southwest may take years or even decades, but renewable energy projects could offer a partial solution to the state’s energy needs. Last year, the Energy Information Administration announced that solar panels generated more electricity than all other energy sources in Arizona combined.
Last year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration ranked Arizona as the second-largest solar energy producer in the nation, behind Nevada. and, Avi Kwa Ame National Monument (which includes most of Nevada’s southern tip) by 2022; Mojave County Director of Development Services Tim Walsh said many companies that would have started renewable energy projects in southern Nevada are now choosing Mojave County instead.
But even if the county imposed a moratorium on future renewable energy projects, those projects could still go ahead. About 65 percent of Mojave County’s land is under federal control, and Walsh said it may be easier than it used to be for energy companies to build renewable energy projects on public land. ing.
“What we are seeing is that the federal government has reduced the cost of leasing renewable energy on federal land,” Walsh said. “So it is becoming more and more attractive for businesses to be able to lease that property.
The Mojave County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 (bishop opposed) to direct county officials to draft a resolution imposing a one-year moratorium on future renewable energy projects. The board is scheduled to vote on the resolution in September.