Wind Energy

Lime Wind Project
Lime Wind Project

The United States has the second-biggest electricity system in the world, accounting for about 20% of the entire world's generating capacity. Of that slice, wind accounts for about 5% of the electrical generation capacity of the U.S. The 60,000 megawatts of wind power installed in the U.S. as of 2012, amounts to more electricity generation capacity than in the entire country of Australia, or Saudi Arabia, or Mexico. That's a lot of power.

Between 2000 and 2012, wind energy has been the fastest growing energy technology in the U.S. and worldwide, achieving an annual growth rate of about 30%. Laws enacted in most of the Western states require energy companies to provide a portion of their energy from renewable energy sources. As a result, the BLM anticipates a continued interest in the use of public lands for renewable energy development. View more >>

The BLM manages 20.6 million acres of public lands with wind potential. As of September 2013, 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 continues to conduct studies necessary to evaluate and process applications for rights-of-way for the siting of wind energy projects and applications for rights-of-way for electric transmission lines from these projects. The BLM has approved wind energy projects in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. As of September 2013, the BLM had 29 pending wind energy development applications on the public lands.

A Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) relating to the development of wind energy on the public lands was completed in June 2005. This EIS provides an analysis of the development of wind energy projects on the public lands in the West. In conjunction with the publication of this EIS, the BLM amended 52 land use plans to allow for the use of applicable lands for wind energy development. BLM offices are able to use this EIS as an aid in analyzing impacts for specific applications for the use of public lands for wind energy use. The BLM issued a wind energy policy in December 2008 to provide guidance on best management practices (BMPs); measures to mitigate potential impacts on birds, wildlife habitat, and other resource values; and guidance on administering wind energy authorizations.

The BLM's wind energy program is part of an "all-of-the-above" strategy to improve the management of energy resources found on Federal lands in a balanced way to ensure the Nation's economic and energy security and quality of life.

Additional information about the BLM's National Wind Energy Program can be found at this website: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/energy/wind_energy.html.

Wind Energy on BLM-Administered Lands in OR/WA

Right-Of-Way (ROW) grants are required for wind testing or development structures, or electrical transmission lines to be erected on public lands. ROW requirements are described in the 43 CFR 2800 ROW Regulations.

In Oregon, as of June 30, 2013, there were 4 authorized (44,960 acres) plus one pending (15,826 acres) wind testing ROW in Oregon, for a total of 60,786 acres. This represents a 45% wind testing acreage decrease from February 2013. There were also three pending wind farm development ROWs (34,208 acres). This represents a 265% wind farm development acreage increase in Oregon from February 2013. There is also one authorized wind farm (108 acres) in Oregon, Lime Wind, which began operation in December 2011.

In Washington there was one authorized wind testing ROW and one pending wind farm development ROW occupying the same project area, Saddle Mountain West (22,096 acres). So the net acreage change for wind testing and development between February 2013 and June 2013 in Washington is essentially zero.

Specific project and location information for OR/WA can be found at this website: http://www.blm.gov/or/energy.

Wind MOU between the BLM and the State of Oregon

In January 2009, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the State of Oregon Department of Energy announced the completion of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the environmental review and siting of future wind energy projects in the State of Oregon. The MOU documents the roles, responsibilities, and procedures to follow in conducting a joint environmental review of commercial wind energy generation development projects by the BLM and the Oregon Department of Energy.