New GIS Tool Maps Military Assets in Order to Facilitate Future U.S. Renewable Energy Development

NRDC Partners with DoD on Proactive Planning Resource to Foster Wind, Solar Geothermal and Transmission Projects

Washington, DC – The Natural Resources Defense Council today released a mapping tool created in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that allows renewable energy developers to identify sites less likely to interfere with DoD’s mission readiness activities and environmentally sensitive areas.

“The Renewable Energy and Defense Geospatial Database is the result of a groundbreaking collaboration by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness,” said Frank DiGiovanni, Director, Training Readiness and Strategy, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Readiness), Department of Defense. “This innovative multidisciplinary approach provides a powerful capability for the renewable energy industry to identify potential impacts on mission readiness activities.”

Intended as a proactive planning tool, NRDC’s Renewable Energy and Defense Database – or READ-Database – is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database that captures essential DoD activities, including DoD base, testing and training range locations; low-altitude high-speed military flight training routes and special use airspace; and an extensive inventory of weather and air surveillance radars all within the United States. The READ-Database will help ensure that the siting of renewable energy avoids conflict with these activities.

“Research and planning is key to any successful venture. This tool provides both,” said Kit Kennedy, NRDC’s Clean Energy Counsel. “Working with the DoD, we can now provide a resource that takes both environmental and military considerations into account for all renewable energy developers in search of a project site.”

The resource, which is available online through NRDC’s website, provides GIS data that is largely missing from the current renewable energy siting process, particularly in the West where opportunity for development of utility-scale wind, solar and geothermal is abundant and DoD has a geographically extensive presence.

NRDC partnered with DoD in the development of the READ-Database, in order to foster better planning of projects by all involved and accelerate the advancement of renewable energy throughout the United States. The READ-Database also aims to improve energy security, create jobs and protect the environment. The DoD has been a leader in the development and deployment of clean energy technologies.    

“The READ-Database represents the state of the art in public-private partnering for renewable energy siting,” said David Belote, Executive Director, DoD Siting Clearinghouse, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment), Department of Defense. “NRDC has created a one-stop shop for developers to prescreen potential project locations for environmental impacts as well as conflicts with military testing, training, and homeland defense operations. The READ-Database promises to facilitate project planning, protect critical military capabilities, and promote an energy-secure future.”

The full dataset is available through a registration process on the NRDC website, but a Google Earth-formatted sample for Wyoming is provided on the project’s webpage. It shows how the READ-Database’s three layers offer combined information to give renewable energy developers and other stakeholders a more complete picture of the DoD mission.

Read more about this project from Peter Lehner, NRDC’s Executive Director:


The NRDC GIS online tool is also being launched on the heels of the Obama administration’s efforts to create a better approach to clean energy development in the U.S. In October, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the release of a supplement to the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for solar energy development on public lands in six Western states. This effort ensures to guide development to appropriate areas on public lands to achieve a successful solar energy program while also minimizing potential impacts to wildlife and sensitive lands.

Geospatial data and analysis are essential when considering sites for renewable energy development.  DoD has established the DoD Siting Clearinghouse, which provides a comprehensive, expedited process for renewable energy developers seeking information on whether a potential site could impact DoD operations.  NRDC’s release of the READ-Database is timed with the October 20, 2011 issuance of DoD’s interim final rule for the DoD Siting Clearinghouse and the Mission Compatibility Evaluation Process. This rule describes and governs how the DoD Siting Clearinghouse will evaluate whether renewable energy project proposals have the potential to adversely impact domestic Defense Department operations. To date the DoD Siting Clearinghouse has evaluated over two hundred projects and approved at least 90% as having no impact on the DoD mission. The READ-Database provides open-source information pertinent to this DoD Siting Clearinghouse review process.

The defense-related information used by NRDC to develop this on-line tool was compiled from open sources and from unclassified geospatial data provided by the Department of Defense. This information may not be current and does not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government, and should be used for preliminary planning purposes only. If use of this tool indicates an intersection of your planned project and a DoD equity, you should contact the DoD Siting Clearinghouse at Indeed, DoD encourages all renewable energy developers to contact the Siting Clearinghouse as early as possible in the siting process.