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The Current 2018 Q1
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Welcome to The Current, 2018 - Q1 Edition

In this issue of The Current, our authors explore the role of public lands in energy development. With insight from Virginia to Kenya, we take a critical look at the role of community engagement in facilitating effective energy development. Diving into recent policy changes in Washington, we discuss key regulatory developments and their impact on energy projects from California to the Navajo Nation. Finally, with an eye to the future, we discuss promising new developments for renewable energy growth on public lands across the country.

Promoting Responsible Utility-Scale Solar Development in Virginia’s Rural Communities

By Kaitlin Savage

Utility-scale solar development relies heavily on timely and efficient land use and zoning approvals. As solar gains traction in Virginia, many counties have begun drafting zoning ordinances and comprehensive plan amendments to address large-scale renewable energy development within their respective jurisdictions. The evolving nature of local regulatory environments pose a challenge to project developers in the solar industry both in the Commonwealth and across the U.S., particularly in rural communities where utility-scale solar facilities tend to be sited.

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Land, Power Projects and Community Engagement

Kevin M. Doyle and Anastasia Ngatti

Land tenure insecurity and historical injustices on land emerge as a leading source of community grievances against proposed power and other development projects in Kenya, according to research conducted for the development of Power Africa’s recently published Guide to Community Engagement for Power Projects in Kenya.

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The Short Life of The Bureau of Land Management’s Master Leasing Plans

By Josh Lappen

Outside the protected parks and monuments which define popular conceptions of public land in America, most federal lands are governed under the multiple use mandate. By law, federal land managers are tasked with carefully balancing multiple uses; extractive, grazing, wilderness preservation and recreation. In practice, the multiple use land planning process is often beset by lawsuits as conservationists and industry groups battle over conflicting visions of the same tracts.

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Renewable Energy on Native American Lands

By Lauren D'Souza

In the United States, tribal lands comprise only two percent of the total landmass, yet hold about 35 percent of the country’s fossil fuel resources and tremendous renewable energy potential in solar, wind, and biomass. Utility-scale renewable energy development on Indian reservations offers a chance at tribal revitalization and increased employment for tribal members.

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Focusing on Quality: Measuring Practices Rather Than Approval Times

By Laura Hersch

A promising development to continue the drive towards a clean energy economy may be a federal one: renewable energy deployed on public lands. The Department of the Interior (DOI) in cooperation with agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), utilizes leasing strategies to deploy renewable energy projects on federal lands. Of the estimated 640 million acres of federal land, the BLM manages 248.3 million acres with the BLM and Congress’ joint jurisdiction constituting over 10 percent of total land use in the United States. According to the DOE, the development of solar photovoltaic energy on just 0.6 percent of the nation’s land mass could supply power to every home in the nation.

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Renewable Roadsides: How State Highways are Going Solar

By Tina Hodges, Jayne Brady & Carter Purcell

State Departments of Transportation are recognizing that installing solar panels as an alternative use for highway Right-of-Ways (ROW) not only saves electricity costs, but also provides clean energy and creates local jobs. Highway ROWs vary in size, but generally encompass paved or unpaved property, located adjacent to the road, and are owned by the State. ROWs in many cases, are close to electrical loads and free from any development. Over the past decade, cost reductions in hardware, utility power purchase agreements and contractor tax incentives have contributed to making these sites favorable for solar development. As a result, solar and other renewable energy technologies have been deployed in the ROWs of over a dozen states across the country.

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Write for The Current

The Current is looking for writers and editors for our issues throughout the year. The next issue will focus on the future of electric vehicles. Interested in editing or have a story idea? Reach out to today!

WCEE is grateful to our Woman of the Year sponsors:

Angel Sponsors


Sustaining Sponsors

Akin Gump
Bracewell LLP
Berkeley Research Group LLC
Customized Energy Solutions
ClearView Energy Partners LLC
Edison Electric Institute
Hogan Lovells US LLP

Thompson Coburn LLP
Van Ness Feldman LLP
Winston & Strawn LLP

Women in Leadership

Holland & Kinight LLPElectric Power
Husch Blackwell LLP
Reed Smith LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
United States Energy Association
Wright & Talisman PC



The Current Team

Marketing and Communication Section Chair:
Kate Courtin

Managing Editor:
Jake Shimkus

Marketing and Communication Section Members:
Molly Bauch, Olga Chistyakova, Mary Fay, Meghan Gross, Tori Thompson, Jennifer Saunders, Jessie Stolark, Doreen Wong

Copyright 2018 WCEE. Reproduction of material from The Current without permission is strictly prohibited.
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