Catalyzing Investment in Urban Sustainability
U.S.-Brazil Joint Initiative on
Urban Sustainability


Renewable Energy Development/RE-Powering Initiative

Policy Overview

Electricity production will need to increase by nearly 30 percent over the next two decades to meet growing demand. As communities become more concerned about the environmental impacts of fossil fuels, renewable energy technologies will play a greater role in meeting future electricity demand. Policies are needed to encourage their deployment. While wind, solar, and biomass facilities currently make up only a small fraction of energy production, renewable energy production is expected to increase by more than 70 percent between 2006 and 2030. Identifying and using land located in areas with high-quality renewable energy resources will be an essential part of such policies. Contaminated properties, such as brownfields, Superfund sites, and abandoned mine lands, can offer ideal locations for renewable energy. Increasingly, developers are finding that these lands are environmentally and economically beneficial for siting renewable energy facilities because they often have critical infrastructure in place, including electric transmission lines, and are adequately zoned for such development. Lenders and investors are finding these sites financially attractive for these uses. The RE-Powering initiative is a good example of this policy in practice; it encourages renewable energy production, while also supporting key environmental goals linked to site cleanup and economic revitalization.

How to Apply this Policy

U.S. EPA is encouraging renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated properties; the Agency's RE-Powering initiative puts this policy in motion by identifying the renewable energy potential of these sites and provides other useful resources for anyone interested in reusing these sites for renewable energy development. Through RE-Powering, U.S. EPA provides a number of tools to help companies and communities implement renewable energy policies: a Rapid Response Team to respond to specific site reuse needs; a catalogue of 11,000 sites, with almost 15 million acres screened for their renewable energy potential; Google Earth mapping tools to allow developers to take advantage of this catalogue; wind and solar "decision trees" to screen potentially contaminated sites for renewable energy potential; and information on state and federal financial incentives.

Contact Information
Brigid Lowery
U.S. EPA, Center for Program Analysis
Phone: +1 (202) 566-2539

For additional information, please see for numerous project examples, including: Keystone Industrial Port Complex, north of Philadelphia, a solar panel and turbine manufacturer on a former steel mill site, which has attracted $104 million in investment and created more than 450 jobs. Bethlehem Steel Winds Project, with 18 wind turbines placed on the former Lackawanna steel site, producing enough electricity to power 9,000 homes.