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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE
 
Release Date: 10/22/13
Contacts: Vanessa Lacayo , 303-239-3681  
  David Quick , 202-912-7413  

BLM to Host First-Ever Competitive Auction to Develop Solar Energy on Public Lands


Two Colorado Solar Energy Zones Hold Potential to Power 125,000 Homes

WASHINGTON – As part of the Obama Administration's strategy to spur renewable energy development on public lands and reduce carbon emissions, the Bureau of Land Management will host the first competitive auction for public lands in two Solar Energy Zones in Colorado on Oct. 24. 

The auction will award preference rights to submit a right-of-way application and a plan of development for commercial solar energy projects on three parcels of BLM-administered land, totaling 3,705 acres, in Conejos and Saguache counties in South Central Colorado.  The auction will take place at 10 a.m. at the BLM Colorado State Office, 2850 Youngfield St. in Lakewood.  The public may watch the auction via a live online feed at www.blm.gov/live
 
“These Solar Energy Zones (SEZs) are part of our effort to make sure that we’re developing clean energy in the right places and in the right ways,” said BLM’s Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze.  “Thursday’s competitive auction is an important milestone as we seek to accelerate the development of clean energy on our public lands that hold enormous potential for the solar power and for generating jobs and revenue for local communities.”
 
The BLM auction is the result of a two-year planning effort by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy to pave the way for utility-scale solar energy development on public lands.  The Western Solar Plan, approved in October 2012, created 17 SEZs in six states where there is the greatest potential for solar energy, fewest resource conflicts and access to existing or planned transmission.  Since then, two additional zones have been established, one each in California and Arizona.  The competitive bidding process is required for new solar development applications in Solar Energy Zones.
 
If fully developed, the two Colorado SEZs could produce about 400 megawatts, enough energy to power an estimated 125,000 homes. 
 
In addition to establishing the Western Solar Plan, the Department of the Interior has worked to stand up other renewable energy on public lands, approving 47 projects since 2009, including more than 8,000 megawatts from 25 solar projects, 4,700 megawatts from 10 wind projects, and about 600 megawatts from 12 geothermal projects.
 
“President Obama challenged us to bring 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy on line by 2020. We've made great strides toward meeting that goal, and this effort will bring us one step closer,” Kornze said.
 
The opening bid will be determined by the minimum bonus bid or the highest sealed bid, whichever is higher.  The minimum bonus bid for each parcel is 5 percent of the rent value of the land for one year ($63 per acre for Saguache and Conejos counties) under the BLM’s interim solar rental policy.  That calculation is based on the value of the interests acquired by the preferred applicant to file an application in a SEZ.  Minimum bonus bids for the three parcels are: De Tilla Gulch -- $3,352; Los Mogotes East (north parcel) -- $4,035; and Los Mogotes East (south parcel) -- $4,284.
 
The company with the winning bid will then submit a project proposal that will be subject to further environmental review and public comment.
 
More information regarding the Solar Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, can be found at http://solareis.anl.gov/ and detailed information about the SEZs, including maps, can be viewed and downloaded at:  http://solareis.anl.gov/maps/index.cfm


The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.
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Last updated: 10-22-2013