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Renewable Energy Development on Brownfields

NALGEP brings information to local governments on renewable energy development on brownfields through webinars, regional workshops, and a white paper due out in 2011. In addition to spreading best practices, NALGEP is also researching the unique challenges which face local governments as they pursue the development of renewable energy facilities on brownfields and look forward to providing local governments with more resources on this topic in the future. 

Developing renewable energy on brownfields is a strategy that will reduce the use of fossil fuels and lessen the environmental impact of new technologies while still offering the traditional benefits of brownfield redevelopment such as improving community wellbeing, relieving local tax burdens, and enriching the surrounding environment. 

There are approximately 490,000 sites and almost 15 million acres of potentially contaminated lands across the United States that are tracked by EPA, including Superfund, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), brownfields, and abandoned mine lands. The EPA has estimated that 11,300 of these contaminated sites have potential for renewable energy development. 

These lands are environmentally and economically beneficial for siting renewable energy facilities because: 

-Critical infrastructure for renewable energy, such electric transmission lines, roads and water lines, are already in place; 

-Properties are often adequately zoned for such development; 

-It implements an economically viable reuse for sites with significant cleanup costs or low real estate development demand; 

-There are few site owners of these properties; and 

-Its takes the stress off undeveloped lands for construction of new, often space consuming, energy facilities; 

RE-Powering America's Land 

EPA's RE-Powering America's Land: Siting Renewable Energy on Potentially Contaminated Land and Mine Sites initiative takes a multi-pronged approach to site cleanup and development of renewable energy production facilities on contaminated land, by conducting activities including: Working with the Department of Energy's National • Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) to identify Brownfields, RCRA, Superfund and abandoned mine lands with wind, solar, biomass and geothermal development potential and identifying sites with landfill gas energy development potential. 

You can find out more about the RE-Powering America's Land Initiative here.