New Energy for America
The U.S. Department of the Interior and the BLM are working with local communities, state regulators, industry, and other federal agencies in building a clean energy future by providing sites for environmentally sound development of renewable energy on public lands. Renewable energy projects on BLM-managed lands include wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass projects and the siting of transmission facilities needed to deliver this power to the consumer.
BLM Renewable Energy Updates
2014-15 Renewable Energy Projects
Renewable Energy Priority Projects Approved Since the Beginning of Calendar Year 2009
Competitive Processes, Terms, and Conditions for Leasing Public Lands for Solar and Wind Energy Development (Proposed Rule, 9/30/2014): The BLM proposes to amend existing regulations to facilitate responsible solar and wind energy development and to receive fair market value for such development. The proposed rule would promote the use of preferred areas for solar and wind energy development and establish competitive processes, terms, and conditions (including rental and bonding requirements) for solar and wind energy development rights-of-way both inside and outside these preferred areas.
Competitive Auction for Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone Yields $5.8 Million in High Bids: The BLM held a combined sealed- and oral-bid auction on June 30, 2014 to submit right-of-way applications and plans of development for utility-scale solar energy projects on 6 parcels across 3,083 acres of public lands in the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone in Clark County, Nevada. The auction generated $5,835,000 in high bids.
Land Management Rule Will Facilitate Renewable Energy Development on Public Lands (4/29/2013)
FWS Bald and Golden Eagle Guidelines
Best Management Practices for Reducing Visual Impacts of Renewable Energy Facilities on BLM-Administered Lands (April 2013) (14.3 MB)
Secretary Salazar Announces Milestone on McCoy Solar Energy Project, Caps Strong Year for Renewable Energy Development on Public Lands (12/20/2012)
Obama Administration Approves Roadmap for Utility-Scale Solar Energy Development on Public Lands (10/12/2012)
Salazar Authorizes Landmark Wyoming Wind Project Site, Reaches President’s Goal of Authorizing 10,000 Megawatts of Renewable Energy (10/9/2012)
Solar radiation levels in the Southwest are some of the best in the world, and the BLM manages more than 19 million acres of public lands with excellent solar energy potential in 6 states: California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Since 2010, the BLM has approved 25 utility-scale solar energy projects, including connected-action projects that include electric transmission support authorizations, with a total approved capacity of over 8,000 megawatts of clean, renewable energy — enough energy to power roughly 2.5 million homes. In addition, the BLM currently has some 70 pending solar energy applications.
In October 2012, the Secretary of the Interior signed the Record of Decision finalizing a Western Solar Plan that provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah by establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those zones, and a process through which to consider additional zones and solar projects.
The BLM manages 20.6 million acres of public lands with wind potential. The BLM has authorized 39 wind energy development projects, including connected-action projects that include electric transmission support authorizations, with a total approved capacity of 5,557 megawatts, enough to supply the power needs of over 1.5 million homes. In addition, the BLM has authorized over 100 wind energy testing sites.
The BLM has the delegated authority for leasing 245 million acres of public lands, including 104 million acres managed by the U.S. Forest Service, with geothermal potential in 11 Western States and Alaska. The BLM presently manages 818 geothermal leases, with 59 geothermal leases in producing status, with a total capacity of 1,500 megawatts of geothermal energy on public lands. This amounts to over 40 percent of U.S. geothermal energy capacity and supplies the electrical needs of about 1.5 million homes. The BLM’s geothermal leases provide not only electrical power generation but also alternative heat sources for direct-use commercial endeavors.
Biomass and Bioenergy
BLM manages approximately 69 million acres of forests and woodlands. About 16 million acres need restoration. The BLM is increasing the use of small-diameter material from forestry, fuels and rangeland treatments. The demand for biomass is expected to increase as bioenergy facilities come on-line to produce heat, fuel, or electricity.
Energy Transmission Corridors
The Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement identifies energy corridors to facilitate future siting of renewable energy development projects, as well as oil, gas, and hydrogen pipelines. Energy transport corridors are agency-preferred locations where pipelines and transmission lines may be sited and built in the future to meet the region’s increasing energy demands while mitigating potential harmful effects to the environment. Once designated as a Corridor, individual pipelines and tranmission lines within the Corridor are sited by processing of a right-of-way application
2014-15 Renewable Energy Projects
The BLM is currently processing 13 renewable energy projects (11 solar and 2 wind) representing about 3,030 MW, or enough electricity to power over 900,000 homes. The BLM identified these projects for processing through collaboration that emphasizes early consultation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Department of Defense. The BLM considered the progress of each project in terms of the necessary public participation and environmental analysis under NEPA and applicable state environmental laws. Based on this consideration of progress, and best information from project proponents, the BLM anticipates that the projects on the list may reach a decision point by the end of 2015.
BLM Education Programs
BLM State Renewable Energy Links