Coconino County, Arizona Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Ordinance (The REO)

2023 NACo Achievement Award Winner

Coconino County, Ariz., AZ

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About the Program

Category: Planning (Best in Category)

Year: 2023

Coconino County, Arizona is home to some of the most spectacular places on earth, including the Grand Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs, the San Francisco Peaks, and Oak Creek Canyon. At nearly 12 million acres, it is the second largest county in the United States, and one of the most sparsely populated. The county’s 2015 Comprehensive Plan recognizes the potential for the county’s sizable land area to be a resource for generating renewable energy, and the Energy Element outlines goals and policies that seek to encourage renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind and biomass. The Plan also recognizes that reliable, clean energy is critical to the health, safety, and welfare of the county’s residents. Renewable energy causes less pollution and fewer negative health impacts than traditional energy production, while protecting the natural environment by slowing climate change. Anticipating an influx of project applications for utility scale renewable energy developments, the county initiated in 2020 a program to develop an ordinance that would establish development standards for how to review, approve, permit, and address project impacts from this type of project. The ordinance was approved in 2022.