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Wind Power on Public Lands

Through its programs at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and partners, Wind Powering America is assisting with the evaluation of wind energy development on public lands.

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Federal Wind Energy Assistance through NREL

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory assists with wind resource assessment and development activities initiated by federal agencies to facilitate distributed renewable energy projects at federal agency sites.

This brief outlines the process for requesting National Renewable Energy Laboratory assistance with federal wind energy projects.

Army National Guard

NREL provided the Army National Guard at Fort Carson, Colorado, with a 50-m meteorological tower that will be installed on a ridge above the base. In addition, NREL is working with the Army National Guard on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and TetraTech on three wind turbine projects, each in the 50-kW to 200-kW range.

Bureau of Land Management Lands in Western States

The United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is undertaking efforts to evaluate additional wind energy development on public lands, including the establishment of a national wind energy program and policy. The BLM currently administers numerous wind energy right-of-way authorizations on lands in several western states and has received a large number of new project proposals. The BLM has determined that the establishment of a national wind energy program and additional related policy would be a major federal action that requires preparation of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Wind Energy Development Programmatic EIS will evaluate issues associated with wind energy development on western public lands (excluding Alaska) administered by the BLM. Please see the Wind Energy Development Programmatic EIS Web site for information about the project and how to participate in the process.

U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard partnered with NREL to purchase a full set of wind monitoring equipment and install it on a large, triangular, 105-m communications tower at Cape May, New Jersey in September 2007. The equipment includes three sets of anemometers, several wind vanes, a temperature sensor, and a barometric pressure sensor. In addition, a 20-m meteorological tower is currently installed for the U.S. Coast Guard in Kodiak, Alaska.

U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of National Forest and Grasslands across the country with National Forest System lands in 44 of the 50 states and Puerto Rico. The Forest Service is currently finalizing agency policy to guide the evaluation and permitting of wind energy development on National Forest System lands. To insure consistent treatment for wind energy on Federal lands, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management policies are similar. While the Forest Service has had numerous inquiries on using National Forest System lands, the agency currently administers only a few meteorological testing authorizations and is completing environmental analysis for one wind farm project.

Use of National Forest System lands for wind energy must be consistent with the Forest Land Management Plan applicable to the area proposed for development and the project must comply with all environmental laws. To assist Forests in defining areas of wind energy potential the Forest Service in partnership with NREL, prepared a report entitled Assessing the Potential for Renewable Energy on National Forest System Lands. This report includes the wind energy potential for the 193 million acres of National Forests and Grasslands.

Two, 20-m meteorological towers are currently installed in Grand Mesa, Colorado and Twin Lakes, Colorado.

U.S. Navy

In May 2007, Global Energy Concepts and NREL staff conducted a site visit to Navy facilities in Guam to identify potential meteorological tower sites. Three potential sites were identified for wind resource assessment, and the meteorological tower procurement is currently underway.


This page lists information resources for public lands.