With a federal grant in hand, Inyo County is on its way to identifying property that can be used for renewable energy generation and transportation.
Inyo County is now partnering with Nye, Esmeralda, Lincoln and White Pine counties in Nevada to spend $1 million on a quest for land that can be used for renewable energy.
The five-county cooperative group received an Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Coalition Assessment Grant to conduct environmental site assessments and area-wide planning in support of renewable energy, transmission and economic development.
The three-year grant can be used at Brownfields sites located in the five partner counties.
Brownfields sites are defined by the EPA as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.”
“The EPA Brownfields funding may be used for a broad spectrum of activities, including developing inventories of brownfields, prioritizing sites, conducting public outreach activities, conducting area-wide planning, conducting site assessments and cleanup and reuse planning related to brownfields sites,” a staff report states.
According to the EPA, “Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off green spaces and working lands.”
The five county coalition that will be utilizing the grant is setting out specifically to locate Brownfields sites in their areas that will be suitable for energy transmission.
“Inyo County plays an extremely important role in this,” Nye County Commissioner Joni Eastley said Tuesday. “We got the funding, and we’re going to distribute it evenly among the five counties.”
The board unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the four other counties.
Once all five counties have signed the MOU, Nye County will begin distributing the grant funding and counties’ staffs will begin utilizing the funds to locate potential energy corridors within the county.
Currently, Nye County is working on a 110-megawatt “power tower” or concentrated solar array in Tonopah. The power tower consists of several solar reflectors that will direct sunlight to a single tower that will collect the energy. Eastley said that project has been affectionately dubbed “The Eye of Mordor.”
That project, Eastley said, will bring approximately 800 contractors to Tonopah during the construction phase of the project. She added that county officials are attempting to find housing and accommodations for all those taxpayers, “but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.”