FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

BLM Idaho – Renewable Energy Strategy Public Open House

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Idaho, in collaboration with our land management partners and the public, is refining our approach to processing applications to assist companies before they propose renewable energy projects on public lands in southern Idaho. There is increased interest in renewable energy, so by looking at a landscape-scale strategy, proposals can be focused on areas that are more viable, where necessary energy production resources are available, but where there are also few multiple-use conflicts. In doing so, applicants will have the tools necessary to propose more environmentally responsible projects, which will increase the efficiency of the application process and reduce impacts to resources and other public land users.

What is the intent of today’s public meeting?

  • Assist in in understanding how the BLM processes renewable energy applications, identify areas with resource conflicts for consideration by applicants, and inform the public how they can participate in the analysis.
  • Enhance understanding and correct misinformation regarding the BLM's responsibilities as a federal multiple-use land manager.
  • Ensure that the renewable energy application process is communicated consistently to stakeholders, as well as to industry.

What will you do with the feedback provided at today’s meeting?

Feedback received at four public meetings in Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Meridian and online, will be collected in a summary document designed to assist companies proposing renewable energy projects that are both environmentally sound and economically feasible. This summary document will be available at https://www.blm.gov/idaho-renewable-energy-strategy by May 1, 2023.

Can I provide feedback after the meeting?

BLM will always accept public input; however, this is not an official commenting period and it is preferred that input relevant to the state’s renewable energy strategy be provided as soon as possible to generate a summary document by May 1, 2023, that can be provided to future energy applicants at their pre-application meetings. The preferred method for submitting feedback is online at bit.ly/blm_idaho.

How is the proposed Lava Ridge Wind Project involved in this process?

When the Lava Ridge Wind Project in south-central Idaho was proposed in 2018, it was the only renewable energy application received by BLM Idaho. Today, the BLM Boise and Twin Falls Districts are in the process of consulting with on several potential renewable energy projects on public lands. The Idaho Renewable Energy Strategy will not interrupt the processing of the Lava Ridge Wind Project. Rather, the results of the strategy will inform future applicants, moving forward.

How will the summary document help future renewable energy applicants in their decision making?

In addition to assessing potential challenges that may arise, the summary will provide interested parties with an opportunity to conduct further research on issues specific to their proposed projects. They may decide to proceed, explore alternative locations, conduct further outreach, or reconsider entirely. If an interested party moves forward with their application, they must address the following factors, as applicable, in the Renewable Energy Factors Analysis Report (see reverse).

Renewable Energy Factors Analysis Report

  1. The availability of lands that could meet the applicant’s needs, including access to transmission. 
  1. Conformance with decisions in current land use plan(s) as amended (e.g., visual resource management class designations and seasonal restrictions), including 2015 sage-grouse plan amendments or successor land use planning decisions. 
  1. Coordination with other Federal agencies and state and local (county and/or municipal) governments, including consideration of consistency with officially adopted plans and policies (e.g., comprehensive land use plans, open space plans, and conservation plans) and permit requirements (e.g., special use permits). 
  1. Financial and technical capability of the applicant, including, but not limited to, the following: 
  • International or domestic experience with renewable energy projects; and 
  • Sufficient capitalization to carry out development, monitoring, and decommissioning, including the preliminary study phase of the project and the environmental review and clearance process. 
  1. Potential resource or user conflicts and proposed measures or design features to address adverse impacts, including, but not limited to:  
    1. Public access and recreational opportunities on public lands (including hunting, fishing, and other fish- and wildlife-related activities). 
    1. Other authorized uses or valid existing rights in the project area (e.g., other permits, leases, ROWs, and associated infrastructure). 
    1. ESA-listed or special status species and their habitats. 
    1. Important fish and wildlife habitats and migration/movement corridors. 
    1. Air and water quality standards.  
    1. Lands with wilderness characteristics and associated scenic, recreation, and wildlife habitat values. 
    1. Lands donated or acquired for conservation purposes, or mitigation lands identified in previously approved projects. 
    1. Resources or uses of neighboring lands with special designations managed by the BLM or other Federal, state or local agencies.  
    1. Other resources or uses identified by the BLM during the pre-application meeting or preliminary application review meeting. 
  1. Capacity of existing and new transmission infrastructure and use of or need for existing and new transmission and transmission interconnection facilities. 
  1. Access needed for construction, operations, maintenance, and termination, including use of existing roads. 
  1. Efficient use of the land considering the solar or wind resource, the technology to be used, and the proposed project layout. 
  1. Water needed for project construction, operations, maintenance, and termination; potential impacts to surface and groundwater; and proposed measures to address such impacts.  
  1. If applicable, special circumstances associated with an application such as an expansion or repowering of an existing project or unique interagency partnership. 
  1. If applicable, opportunities to combine Federal and nonfederal lands for optimum siting (e.g., combining BLM-administered land with adjacent previously disturbed private lands). 
  1. If applicable, location in relation to previously contaminated or disturbed lands such as brownfields; mechanically altered lands such as mine-scarred lands and fallowed agricultural lands; idle or underutilized industrial areas; lands adjacent to urbanized areas and/or load centers; or areas repeatedly burned and with limited probability of restoration. 
  1. Potentially affected Department of Defense facilities and airspace, potential conflicts, and proposed measures to address such conflicts. 
  1. Compliance with FAA requirements.