U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
United States Department of the Interior
In Reply Refer To:
EMS TRANSMISSION DATE 07/11/2014
To: All State and Field Officials
From: Assistant Director, Energy, Minerals, and Realty Management
Subject: Policy for Solar and Wind Energy Inspection and Enforcement
Program Area: Right-of-Way Program – Solar and Wind Energy.
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) updates and replaces the interim policy (IM 2014-019) for solar and wind energy inspection and enforcement (I&E) issued December 11, 2013. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) policy is to facilitate environmentally responsible development and operation of solar and wind energy projects on the public lands, consistent with the provisions of Secretarial Order 3285, dated March 11, 2009, as amended.
Policy/Action: The BLM will inspect authorized solar and wind energy projects to ensure the right-of-way (ROW) holder’s compliance with applicable laws, regulations, terms, conditions, and stipulations of the ROW grant (terms and conditions). The BLM will internally document the number of inspections made for renewable energy authorizations completed under the program element “NH,” and document the inspection in the Legacy Rehost 2000 land record system.
This IM promotes consistency in the BLM’s administration of renewable energy development authorizations on public lands. It does not apply to projects sited on non-public lands. It is the responsibility of the ROW holder to ensure compliance with requirements outside the BLM’s authority.
Roles and Responsibilities
The BLM may also use third-party contractors to assist with I&E where appropriate. However, it remains the BLM’s responsibility to ensure the environmental compliance of a project and coordinate with other agencies for ROW inspection activities.
The ROW holder will designate a representative with authority to respond to the BLM and implement corrective actions identified by the BLM during construction, operations, and decommissioning activities.
The ROW holder may choose to provide a third-party contractor as the BLM’s third-party contractor. When contracted by the holder, the BLM will enter into an agreement with the third-party contractor and the holder, defining the appropriate reporting relationships and funding mechanism. The agreement will identify the holder as providing third-party contractor funding and the BLM providing contractor reporting and direction. The BLM will request the holder to provide names of prospective third-party contractors for the BLM’s approval. Upon BLM approval, the holder will select a third-party contractor. The BLM will not be a party to any financial arrangement between the holder and the third-party contractor.
If the third-party contractor’s inspection performance does not meet BLM requirements, the BLM will require the ROW holder to dismiss and replace the contractor. The holder can request permission from the BLM to dismiss a third-party contractor when the holder is dissatisfied with performance, but the holder must include sufficient supporting rationale in its request. The BLM may reject the holder’s request.
Start of Construction
The BLM Compliance Project Manager will conduct inspections during construction and decommissioning of a facility. At a minimum, the BLM will conduct a monthly inspection of the project site during construction activities, including an onsite meeting with the third-party compliance manager and a holder representative(s). The BLM may require more frequent inspections for projects that have:
The frequency of inspections may decrease during the operation and maintenance phase of the project or as construction activities subside. At a minimum, the BLM will require an annual administrative review of an operating facility and a more thorough review that includes updated records from the holder and a field inspection performed at least once every 3 years. The project ECMP will document the frequency and scope of the BLM post-construction inspections. If determined appropriate, the AO may allow the ROW holder to self-report the project inspection requirements and provide the report to the BLM annually for review.
The BLM will suspend construction on a project if an activity deviates from the project’s resource protection requirements or authorized construction plans, and the BLM determines the activity is noncompliant. Noncompliance with any requirement is grounds for immediate temporary suspension of onsite activities by the holder if the noncompliance constitutes a threat to public health or safety or the environment. The BLM AO may delegate the authority to issue an immediate temporary suspension to the third-party compliance manager. Onsite inspectors and compliance monitors also have the authority to halt specific localized operations to protect resources. The BLM Compliance Project Manager or BLM third-party compliance contractor must notify the BLM AO if the BLM or third-party contractor takes actions to suspend construction activities. The BLM AO will review the suspension and either approve the suspension or rescind its approval. The BLM AO will provide a written suspension order to the holder in a timely manner that explains the reasons for the suspension pursuant to 43 CFR 2807.16(a). The BLM Compliance Project Manager, or delegate, will prepare a report and file the report in the compliance section of the project file within 3 working days of the incident, with a copy sent to the AO.
Substantial deviations are changes to the authorized location or use of a ROW and include construction outside the boundaries of the authorized ROW or adding additional facilities or equipment that is not part of the original ROW authorization. The holder must submit any proposed substantial deviations to the BLM for review and approval. The BLM must approve the holder’s request in writing prior to the holder starting any substantial deviation activity. Moreover, the holder’s request may result in further NEPA analysis and amendments to the ROW grant pursuant to 43 CFR 2807.20.
The BLM AO, or delegate, must also approve any non-substantial deviation activity in writing prior to the holder initiating the activity. Non-substantial deviations, described below, are construction deviations that do not rise to the level of significant deviations, would not result in an amendment to a ROW grant, and may be delegated to a compliance manager or monitor as approved by the BLM and provided for in section 3 of attachment 1. A non-substantial deviation must meet all of the following criteria:
Timeframe: This policy is effective upon issuance. The National Renewable Energy Office will review activities performed under this interim policy under the National Renewable Energy Coordination Office’s Oversight and Implementation Plan for solar and wind projects.
Budget Impact: The application of this policy will have minimal budget impact. The I&E workload for solar and wind energy ROW authorizations are subject to the monitoring cost recovery provisions of the ROW regulations (43 CFR 2805.16).
Background: As part of an overall renewable energy program strategy, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-58, August 8, 2005) encourages the development of renewable energy resources on the public lands, including solar and wind energy projects. Secretarial Order 3285A1 established the development of environmentally responsible renewable energy as a priority of the Department of the Interior. This IM helps to ensure the accomplishment of these goals and provides an efficient and effective I&E program for solar and wind energy development ROW authorizations.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: The BLM will incorporate this policy into Rights-of-Way, MS-2805, during the next revision.
Coordination: The National Renewable Energy Coordination Office (WO-301) coordinated preparation of this IM with the Division of Lands, Realty and Cadastral Survey (WO-350), the state offices, and the Renewable Energy Coordination Office leads and BLM national project managers. The BLM state and field Offices and the Solicitor’s Office reviewed and provided input to this policy prior to its finalization.
Contact: If you have any questions concerning the content of this IM, please contact me at 202 208-4201, or your staff may contact Ray Brady, Manager, National Renewable Energy Coordination Office at 202-912-7312 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jayme Lopez, Program Lead, National Renewable Energy Coordination Office at 202-912-7547 or email@example.com.
Signed by: Authenticated by:
|Last updated: 07-17-2014|
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