Alternative Uses of Highway Right-of-Way
State Departments of Transportation are increasingly exploring the use of highway right-of-way (ROW) to accommodate renewable energy technologies. The ample lands DOTs manage are often close to electrical loads and have sometimes already been disturbed, potentially making these properties ideal locations for renewable energy applications.
Highway ROW renewable energy projects can:
- Add value to ROW assets and create a revenue source for State DOTs
- Reduce greenhouse gas and other pollutant emissions
- Promote energy security by diversifying energy generation and delivery methods
- Foster the creation of a local green job market that enhances the viability of the Nation's renewable energy industry
Renewable Energy Projects Map
The following map provides a snapshot of existing highway renewable energy projects from around the country. Click on an icon for more information about a project. Please contact Carson Poe to recommend additional projects to include in the map.
- Renewable Energy Generation in the Highway Right-of-Way Briefing Book: The briefing book provides a high level overview of Renewable energy highway projects, including potential business models and funding sources, and applicable federal and state regulatory requirements. Forthcoming.
- Alternative Uses of Highway Right-of-Way Report - In January 2012, FHWA published this report to better enable State DOTs and local public agencies to evaluate the feasibility of accommodating renewable energy technologies in the ROW. The report outlines the current state of the practice, challenges, and lessons learned in accommodating alternative energy technologies and alternative fuel facilities in highway ROW.
- Alternative Uses of Highway ROW Webinar - In August 2012, FHWA hosted a webinar on accommodating renewable energy technologies and alternative fuel facilities in the highway ROW. The webinar provided an overview of the research report and included presentations from three applications of renewable energy in the ROW: Oregon DOT's solar highway projects; Freeway to Fuels pilot projects; and North Carolina DOT's biocrop projects.
- FHWA Related Guidance:
- Guidance on Utilization of Highway Right-of-Way - In response to the increasing number of proposals to use the highway system ROW to accommodate renewable energy facilities, in 2009 FHWA issued guidance to clarify the applicability of Federal laws and regulations to such proposals.
- Utility Program Guide - FHWA developed the Utility Program Guide to assist individuals administering Federal-aid highway programs that involve: use of Federal-aid highway funds for the relocation and adjustment of utility facilities, and the accommodation of utility facilities and private lines on Federal-aid highway ROW.
- Program Checklist for Alternative Uses of the ROW - The checklist includes questions that DOTs might consider should they decide to assess whether a program to accommodate renewable energy or alternative fuel facilities in their state is viable. The checklist can help DOTs identify important components it already has in place versus those that might also be necessary to accommodate alternative uses of their ROW.
- Example Agreements: FHWA has compiled examples of lease agreements, power purchase agreements, and Request for Proposals that agencies have used to implement highway renewable energy projects. Please contact Carson Poe for example documents.
- Carbon Sequestration Pilot Program Results (or PDF, 424Kb) - (May 2010). FHWA established the Carbon Sequestration Pilot Program (CSPP) in 2008 to assess whether a roadside carbon sequestration effort through modified maintenance and management practices is appropriate and feasible for state DOTs when balanced against ecological and economic uncertainties. CSPP findings are expected to inform DOTs that may be considering the implications of future climate change legislation or that independently want to evaluate the cost effectiveness of using National Highway System ROW to generate revenue from the sale of carbon credits, offset their own emissions, or meet statewide greenhouse gas emissions objectives.
- Guidance on extracting value from Texas DOT's land holdings(July 2012) - This University of Texas at Austin report identifies when, where, and under what circumstances Texas DOT should pursue the implementation of Value Extraction Applications and how to effectively recognize and involve key stakeholders.
- Opportunities on the State Highway System to Generate Revenue or Offset Expenditures for the State of Florida (October 2013) - This research presents the state-of-the-practice of value extraction projects and initiatives in highway ROW in Florida. It also offers a screening tool for Florida DOT (FDOT) to use in implementing three high-priority value extraction projects chosen by FDOT including (i) solar photovoltaic, (ii) LED lighting, and (iii) haying or planting in highway ROW.