The dry, sun-drenched desert areas of the southwestern United States hold enormous potential for large-scale deployment of solar energy facilities and systems. Solar energy can be used to generate electricity, monitor ecosystem conditions, pump water for livestock, and provide lighting and communications in remote desert areas.
A significant number of acres administered by the BLM in southern California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah register levels of solar radiation suitable for utility-scale solar power plant development using current technology. The need for clean, affordable domestic energy supplies is renewing interest in using solar energy to produce electricity. Solar energy can supplement other resources to serve the country's need for energy and help sustain continued economic development.
The BLM has received a large number of utility-scale solar energy right-of-way applications, mainly in California, Nevada, and Arizona. Responding to an increased interest in solar energy development, the BLM issued policy guidance in 2007 to facilitate the processing of right-of-way (ROW) applications for solar energy projects on public lands. Since then, the BLM has issued additional policy guidance on rental rates, development, due diligence, pre-application requirements, and environmental screening.
The BLM and the DOE have also prepared a joint programmatic environmental impact statement that assesses the environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with solar energy development on BLM-managed lands in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The Final Solar Programmativc EIS was released on July 24, 2012
Maps that depict which BLM-administered lands would be available for right-of-way (ROW) application for solar energy development under the BLM's action alternatives as outlined in the Supplement to the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Statement (PEIS) are available for downloading in PDF format. These include the BLM's 17 proposed solar energy zones (SEZs) as presented in the Supplement. Additional spatial data are also available for downloading in several formats, or for interactive online viewing.
Fact sheet : Renewable Energy and the BLM: SOLAR (pdf)