BLM Arizona is Renewable Ready
Renewable Ready means that BLM Arizona has taken significant steps to make public lands available for utility-scale renewable energy projects. A portion of the 12.2 million acres managed by the BLM have been identified as suitable for solar, wind, and transmission projects.
There are five elements to BLM Arizona's Renewable Ready status:
- Solar energy zones (SEZ)
- Renewable energy development areas (REDA)
- Mitigation plan to compensate for natural and cultural resource conflicts
- Development of permitted projects
- Transmission line development
Solar Energy Zones
The BLM has established solar energy zones in six states, including Arizona. The BLM defines a SEZ as an area well suited for utility-scale production of solar energy. The SEZs are designed to be priority locations for developing solar energy and associated transmission infrastructure.
Arizona has three SEZs, which are managed under terms of the BLM’s Western Solar Plan:
If fully developed, the Arizona SEZs have the capacity to provide about 1,100 megawatts of electricity.
The BLM is in the process of drafting a rule identifying a competitive leasing process for rights to develop solar projects in the SEZs.
Renewable Energy Development Areas
Renewable energy developments on public lands in Arizona are not limited to the SEZs. The Western Solar Plan provides for variance and exclusion lands. Development will not be allowed on exclusion lands, but variance lands may be considered for solar energy development.
Included in the Arizona variance lands are 192,100 acres that have been identified as potentially suitable for solar or wind development. These lands are in parcels ranging from 5 acres to about 20,000 acres. BLM Arizona calls them renewable energy development areas, or REDAs.
The REDAs are near transmission lines or designated corridors, close to population centers or industrial areas, and have been analyzed for potential impacts on groundwater availability. These lands also have few known resource conflicts or have been previously disturbed, such as abandoned and reclaimed mines. REDAs are available for solar or wind energy development at a variety of scales. They could provide 24,000 megawatts of electricity at peak capacity if fully developed for solar.
Because the BLM has done a preliminary screening on the REDAs, interested renewable energy developers can start their research and planning in areas with the best potential for a successful outcome.
BLM Arizona has amended eight land use plans identifying REDAs as the places where renewable energy development is most suitable on BLM land.