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February 20, 2024

Rep. Schiff Introduces Renewable Roadsides Act to Harness Solar Energy Along Federal Highways

Washington, D.C.— Today, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced the Renewable Roadsides Act, which aims to start the process of transforming landscapes alongside federal highways to house increased solar energy infrastructure. The bill would direct the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to study the feasibility of developing solar energy generation and storage facilities, as well as electrical transmission and distribution infrastructure, on land adjacent to federal highways.

"The future will be powered by clean, green, renewable energy – and my Renewable Roadsides Act will leverage the untapped potential of land along our nation’s highways to generate it," said Rep. Schiff. "It's time to rethink how we view the spaces around us and how they can be repurposed towards meeting our renewable energy goals. This legislation would give us the opportunity to generate clean energy, mitigate the risk of blackouts, and improve local energy reliability without the land use and conservation concerns typically associated with large-scale energy projects.”

"As we work toward a green transition, it is imperative that we utilize existing infrastructure to facilitate clean energy technologies, which will require a creative reimagining of where and how we get power. Our solutions will require knowledge, creativity, and expediency, and this bill makes it possible to do all three." said Aaron McCall, Federal Advocacy Coordinator, California Environmental Voters.

“Our federal highway system touches almost every part of the country and equates to over 100,000 miles of land we could potentially use to decarbonize the grid,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “This study would help us determine how feasible it is to place clean energy projects alongside federal highways, a novel approach to fighting climate change. We commend Representative Schiff for introducing the Renewable Roadsides Act and for his commitment to supporting our clean energy future.”

“Installing solar arrays on highway right of ways is a promising way to drive down our dependence on fossil energy, reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and grow solar energy resources responsibly. This legislation would be an important step in making that happen,” said Jeff Slyfield, Federal Legislative Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council.

Specifically, the Renewable Roadsides Act would:

  • Direct the DOT and DOE to jointly study the development of solar energy generation facilities, storage facilities, and electrical transmission and distribution facilities on land alongside federal highways.

  • Require the DOT and DOE to issue a report to Congress on their findings, inspiring broader discussions on leveraging underutilized land for renewable energy generation.

  • Encourage the utilization of federal highway land for renewable energy projects, in line with the Federal Highway Administration's 2021 guidance and the Biden Administration's clean energy initiatives.

  • Support states' efforts in renewable energy generation by sharing best practices and lessons learned from existing solar installations alongside highways.

  • Address the dual challenges of energy reliability and environmental conservation by promoting clean energy infrastructure development in already developed areas, minimizing land use and conservation concerns.

The Renewable Roadsides Act is supported by the American Solar Energy Society, California Environmental Voters, Environment America, Environment California, Environmental Defense Fund, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Solar Energy Industries Association.

The Renewable Roadsides Act is cosponsored by Reps. André Carson (D-I.N.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-M.O.), Hank Johnson (D-G.A.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), Andrea Salinas (D-O.R.), Rashida Tlaib (D-M.I.), David Trone (D-M.D.).

To read the full bill text, click HERE.