Brightfields Energy Siting Initiative (BESI) Mapping Tool

TNC’s new mapping tool aims to place new energy development on previously disturbed lands, or so-called “brownfields,” basically recycling land that was once used to develop fossil fuels for cleaner renewables. By preserving intact habitat, it helps ensure that Wyoming’s legacy of iconic wildlife and sweeping natural beauty isn’t compromised.

Angi Bruce, Deputy Director, Wyoming Game and Fish Department says: “Siting solar and wind development is the most critical part of project planning for minimizing impacts to fish and wildlife. TNC incorporated important fish and wildlife habitats in an easy-to-access tool that is a valuable starting point for developers looking to work in Wyoming. Game and Fish thanks TNC for working proactively to create resources to aid developers and benefit wildlife.” 

BESI has taken TNCs Site Renewables Right (SRR) concept and refined the information to be useful at thestate level. Like SRR, the BESI map tool identifies areas where new energy development is unlikely to encounter significant land use conflicts, permitting delays and cost overruns. In contrast to SRR, the BESI map tool is specifically focused on Wyoming, providing information down to an individual project site. Like SRR the BESI tool locates the sensitive places to avoid.

For example, the BESI tool can determine if a potential site would risk conflict with a known mule deer migration route, a location with an abundance of cultural resources nearby or a golden eagle nesting area. It can be used to prioritize a site better suited for restoration than a new energy facility, because it is surrounded by excellent intact sagebrush habitat. But BESI goes a step further. It also searches for sites that are good spots to build new facilities – specifically, land that has already been disturbed by industrial development. More than 500,000 acres of these types of sites are highlighted on the map. That is an important added benefit.

The BESI map tool can help policy makers prioritize areas for protection or development in the state, especially those making land use decisions at the county level.

Glen Murrell, Executive Director, Wyoming Energy Authority: “Siting a new project is a lengthy and complex process that can often cause inconvenient delays. The BESI map tool aims to aid the energy industry in this process. Information is power and BESI has the capability to help energy producers in Wyoming move forward with their projects. It’s a win-win for energy producers and the state.”

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