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Renewable Energy and our National Parks

Offshore Wind Turbines Solar Panels Geothermal Spring Wind Turbines Transmission Lines Desert Tortoise Research

Generation and transmission of renewable energy includes utility-scale solar, wind, geothermal, and off-shore wind technologies and hydroelectricity. Many authorized and proposed projects to increase renewable energy resources are close to units of the National Park System and other special status areas under NPS administration, such as national trails and historic sites.

It is imperative that potential impacts associated with renewable energy development are considered early in the planning and permitting process to reduce cross-boundary impacts to national parks and ensure development on public lands is "smart from the start." Key partnerships with other federal and state agencies help to develop ways by which to identify, avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to parks. Park resources and values at risk include: water quantity and quality, air quality, wildlife, dark night skies, natural soundscapes, cultural resources, scenic views, soils, geologic and hydrologic processes, and park visitor experience.

The Role of the National Park Service

The National Park Service has been actively engaged in renewable energy and transmission related planning, permitting/leasing, and project related decision-making at the Department, Bureau, and field level to support expansion of our nation's energy portfolio. The NPS is committed to joining renewable energy permitting/leasing lead agencies as a cooperating agency on those projects for which it has significant resource concerns, and working in-house to identify resource issues and solutions at the earliest possible stage in the process.

To better understand how cross-boundary impacts may be avoided and minimized the NPS is working with other federal and state energy and environmental protection agencies, local zoning boards, and research institutions. The National Park Service also participates in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's Atlantic Wind state task forces and serves on the Department of Energy, Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture Rapid Response Team for Transmission.

During 2012-2013 the NPS hired six term positions to assist on renewable energy and related electric transmission infrastructure work. These positions are responsible for working with NPS partners at the field and region level to improve siting, environmental review, and permitting processes for utility-scale projects.

Featured Programs Areas

NPS Renewable Energy Program

Learn about NPS Renewable Energy's program objectives and how to receive assistance. Learn more...

Law and Policy

Several laws, mandates, policies and regulations provide the NPS with the authority and guidance to protect park resources, even if projects occur outside of the boundaries of units of the park system. Learn more...

Onshore Wind Energy

Wind turbines

Onshore wind turbines capture energy from the wind and produce electricity using long, rotating blades that drive a generator located at the top of the tower behind the blades. Learn more...

Offshore Wind Energy

Offshore Wind turbines

Wind turbines capture energy and produce electricity using long, rotating blades that drive a generator. Offshore wind resources tend to be stronger and more consistent than onshore wind. Learn more...

Solar Energy

Solar energy harnesses sunlight to produce energy in the form of heating, cooling, or electricity. Learn more...

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal spring

Geothermal energy is derived from underground reservoirs of hot water or steam. Learn more...

Electric Transmission & Distribution

Electric transmission and distribution technologies include components used to transmit and distribute electricity from generation sites to end users. Learn more...

Research and Analysis

The NPS collaborates with other agencies to identify potential resource conflicts with proposed renewable energy generation. Learn more...

Related Links

Key Contacts

Sarah QuinnSarah Quinn, J.D.
External Renewable Energy Program Lead
Geologic Resources Division
12795 West Alameda Parkway
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
(303) 969-2094 (office)
Contact - Sarah Quinn

Lisa NorbyLisa Norby
Energy and Minerals Branch Chief,
Geoscientist-in-the-Parks & Mosaics in Science Program Manager
Geologic Resources Division
12795 West Alameda Parkway
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
(303) 969-2318 (office)
Contact - Lisa Norby

Geologic Resources Division Mailing Address
National Park Service
Geologic Resources Division
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, Colorado 80225-0287


Last Updated: February 26, 2016