New Energy for America
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
Active Priority Renewable Energy Projects
The BLM is currently processing 23 renewable energy projects (14 solar, 6 wind, and 3 geothermal) representing about 5,300 MW. 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, in the case of geothermal projects on forest lands, with the U.S. Forest Service. The projects were selected based on the screening criteria outlined in BLM policy memoranda issued in February 2011.
BLM Education Programs
BLM State Renewable Energy Links