Arizona’s First Wind Farm

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar joined federal, state and local officials, energy industry leaders, ranchers and school children to celebrate Arizona’s first commercial-scale wind power project at the dedication of the Dry Lake Wind Power Project.

Located in Navajo County, the Dry Lake Wind Power Project sits on a combination of private, state and federal lands. Approximately a third of the project is on the private Rocking Chair Ranch, with a third each on Arizona State Land Department and Bureau of Land Management public lands.

"The successful completion of this vital project reflects the concerns we all share — nationally, regionally and locally — about the critical energy challenges facing communities across the United States," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "The partnership that built Arizona’s first commercial-scale wind energy project demonstrates a common desire to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil by using our domestic renewable resources to meet a larger share of our energy needs. This strategy will also help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change, while creating ‘green jobs’ around the nation."

The project brings a new source of clean, renewable energy to the region while supporting the local economy through property tax payments to Navajo County and job creation. During the peak of Dry Lake’s construction, 200 direct construction jobs were created as well as hundreds of indirect jobs through the supply chain and construction support.

"This project is another example of the incredible potential that clean, renewable energy has for Arizona and our country," said Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who serves Navajo County in the House of Representatives and spoke at the dedication. "The Dry Lake Wind Farm will deliver jobs, help us diversify our energy sources and lower our utility bills. In these tough times, it is a shot in the arm for District One."

Dry Lake generates enough power for more than 15,000 homes, which will be delivered to customers of Salt River Project.

"The message this plant sends to Arizonans is as important as the power it generates," said SRP General Manager Richard Silverman. "Today isn’t only about a power plant, it’s about a more sustainable future for our customers and all of Arizona."

Composed of 30 Suzlon S88-2.1 megawatt (MW) turbines, the Dry Lake Wind Power Project generates 63 MW of clean energy.

"We are proud to be part of Arizona’s first commercial-scale wind farm, and of our role in creating jobs in the region. The Dry Lake project underscores our commitment to the region," said Tulsi Tanti, Chairman and Managing Director for Suzlon Energy. "The U.S. is among the world’s leaders in renewable energy, and we look forward to bringing more clean energy and clean-energy jobs to Arizona and the United States."

The Dry Lake Wind Power Project was developed and is operated by Iberdrola Renewables, the largest provider of wind power in the world.

"Iberdrola Renewables intends to invest another $6 billion in new renewable energy facilities in the United States over the next three to four years," said Martin Mugica, Executive Vice President for Iberdrola Renewables. "It is very satisfying to help provide clean energy and homegrown green jobs."

The wind farm supports the local community through tax benefits to Navajo County.

"Navajo County is proud to be the home of the first wind farm in the State of Arizona," said District III Supervisor J.R. DeSpain. "We hope that the success of the Dry Lake project will encourage further renewable energy development in the County and the State."

In addition, the wind farm was honored with an award from the Sustainable Electricity and Buildings Wind Powering America Program National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

"Wind Powering America gives an award for the first wind farm in each state because it’s a big deal. It represents working through all of the issues and barriers that first-of-a-kind activities must deal with. It demonstrates to all of the parties the benefits of a wind project — economic benefits, price stability, and portfolio diversity," said Marguerite Kelly, Group Manager, Sustainable Electricity and Buildings Wind Powering America Program National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "Officials and the Arizona public can now see, hear and experience a wind farm up close and personal."

One of the most unique features of the Dry Lake project is that it is located on a mix of federal, state, and private land.

"Today’s announcement underscores the critical role that wind power will play as America diversifies its energy portfolio," said Bob Abbey, Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). "As the steward of more land than any other Federal agency, the BLM is proud to support the development of this clean energy source, one that will help reduce our dependency on foreign oil in uncertain times."

Contributing to the mix, nearly a third of the land used for the project is from the Arizona State Land Department.

"Sustainable renewable energy for Arizona is a great thing for our future and the Arizona State Land Department is proud to be a participant and a stakeholder in the first utility-scale wind energy generation facility in the state," said Ruben Ojeda, Rights-of-Way Section Manager for Arizona State Land Department.

The project covers approximately 6,000 acres yet uses less than two percent of the total acreage, leaving the majority of land for cattle grazing.

"My family has been ranching for more than a hundred years and I always believed that this site had the wind to support a commercial-scale wind project," said Bill Elkins, owner of the Rocking Chair Ranch. "Now, Dry Lake is helping keep my family tradition going while providing jobs for the next generation. My son works as a technician for Iberdrola Renewables and he loves his job."

Dry Lake Wind Power Project is Arizona’s first modern, commercial-scale wind farm. Iberdrola Renewables developed and built the project on a combination of private, state and federal lands in northeastern Arizona. Landowners include the Rocking Chair Ranch, Arizona State Land Department and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The project’s 30 Suzlon wind turbines generate 63 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy for Salt River Project (SRP), the third-largest public power utility in the nation, serving customers in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. SRP estimates that’s enough electricity to power approximately 15,000 average Arizona homes.

The wind farm supports the local economy by contributing substantial amounts to the community through payments to Navajo County and to landowners, and by the economic boost provided during construction. During the peak of Dry Lake’s construction, up to 200 jobs were created.