BLM to host virtual public meetings for proposed solar projects near Esmeralda Substation

Public input being accepted through September 23

Update on public input for variance process (9/15/21):

Public input is being accepted on granting a variance for seven solar energy projects through September 23. Comments should be submitted to Greg Helseth at with a subject line of “Solar Project Variance Comment” 

Maps and plans of development are available on the right side of this page. 

The variance process is not part of the NEPA process. Once the decision is made on whether or not to grant a variance for a project, the Battle Mountain District will be responsible for conducting analysis, preparing documents and issuing a decision regarding the project. 

What is the variance process? 

  • The variance process provides an opportunity for developers to propose applications outside of identified SEZs and complements the directed development approach in the program alternative. Variances may be needed in the near term because the lands identified as SEZs might be insufficient to accommodate demand for utility-scale solar development or may not have access to adequate transmission capacity to facilitate such development 
  • The BLM will determine whether it is appropriate to continue to process, or to deny, a right-of-way application submitted through the variance process. 
  • Once complete, the determination package will be presented to BLM Executive Leadership for a determination to continue or deny. 


CARSON CITY, Nev. – In support of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to permit 25 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands by 2025 and to achieve 100 percent carbon pollution-free energy by 2035, the Bureau of Land Management will host two virtual public meetings to discuss proposed solar and energy storage projects on Wednesday, Sept. 8, and Thursday, Sept. 9.

These proposed projects would be located in the vicinity of the Esmeralda Substation and the proposed 525-kilovolt GreenLink West transmission line in unincorporated Esmeralda County. Six applicants have requested right-of-way grants to construct, operate and decommission seven solar projects on public lands, as follows. The links go to additional information about each project.

  • Esmeralda Solar Energy Center Project, NextEra Energy Resources: 500-megawatt solar and energy storage project on approximately 8,804 acres of public lands.
  • Nivloc Solar Energy Project, Invenergy Solar: 500-megawatt solar and energy storage project on approximately 8,635 acres of public lands.
  • Smoky Valley Solar Project, ConnectGen: 1,000-megawatt solar and energy storage project on approximately 5,128 acres of public lands.
  • Rhyolite Ridge I Solar Project, 8minute Solar Energy: 600-megawatt solar and energy storage project on approximately 6,368 acres of public lands.
  • Rhyolite Ridge II Solar Project, 8minute Solar Energy: 600-megawatt solar and energy storage project on approximately 6,810 acres of public lands.
  • Gold Dust Solar, Arevia Power: 1500-megawatt solar photovoltaic and 1,000 MW battery energy storage project on approximately 17,018 acres of public lands.
  • Esmeralda Solar Project, Leeward Renewable Energy: 650 MW solar and energy storage project on approximately 8,700 acres of public lands.

The purpose of these public meetings is to provide information on the proposed projects and to solicit public input which will be incorporated into applications for Variance Approval as required by the Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision. Topics will include an overview of the projects, discussion of size, capacity, structures, timeline and environmental concerns that are known at this time.

Meeting information for Sept. 8, 6:30-7:30 p.m. PDT is as follows:

Video conference: To access by phone, dial 1-866-807-9684. Please ask to be connected to the Pine Nut and Mason Valley call.

Meeting information for Sept. 9, 6:30-7:30 p.m. PDT is as follows:

Video conference: To access by phone, dial 1-669-900-6833 or 1-929-205-6099, passcode 971-8284-4088. You will be connected to the Esmerelda Solar Variance Projects meeting.

For more information contact Greg Helseth at 775-885-6000.



This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.