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EPA Tool Seeks Renewables at Contaminated Sites

Legislation and regulations

RE-Powering Initiative leads to 70 renewable energy projects using contaminated land and landfills.

REW Staff August 5, 2013

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated its RE-Powering Mapping and Screening Tool so it will now provide preliminary screening results for renewable energy potential at 66,000 contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites across the country. Formerly, the tool offered such screening at just 24,000 sites.

The RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative, started by EPA in 2008, encourages the development of renewable energy on potentially contaminated land, landfills and mine sites when it is aligned with the community’s vision for the site.

“We see responsible renewable energy development on contaminated lands and landfills as a win-win-win for the nation, local communities, and the environment,” says Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “In President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the administration set a goal to double renewable electricity generation by 2020. By identifying the renewable energy potential of contaminated sites across the country, these screening results are a good step toward meeting national renewable energy goals in order to address climate change, while also cleaning up and revitalizing contaminated lands in our communities.”

Pulling from EPA databases of potentially and formerly contaminated lands, as well as partnering with state agencies from California, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Virginia, the RE-Powering Initiative recently expanded the universe of sites to the 66,000 figure. Working in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), RE-Powering developed screening criteria for solar, wind, biomass and geothermal potential at various levels of development. The sites are tracked by EPA and selected state agencies.

Since RE-Powering’s inception more than 70 renewable energy projects have been installed on contaminated lands or landfills. These early projects represent more than 200 megawatts of installed capacity, which could power approximately 30,000 homes, according to EPA.

More information on the RE-Powering Mapper is available at www.epa.gov/renewableenergyland/rd_mapping_tool.htm and more information on the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative can be found at www.epa.gov/renewableenergyland.

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