Renewable energy generated on BLM-managed public land comes online to power resorts in Las Vegas
As part of the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to increase responsible renewable energy production on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management today applauded the announcement that MGM Resorts has begun to bring 130 megawatts of clean power online from its MEGA Solar Array project. The MEGA Solar Array renewable energy project is 15 miles northeast of Las Vegas within the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone on 715 acres of public land managed by the BLM Las Vegas Field Office.
“Today’s progress is a great example of how renewable resources on public lands can provide clean energy solutions to urban centers as we move into the future,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis. “The demand for renewable energy has never been greater. The technological advances, increased interest, cost effectiveness, and tremendous economic potential make these projects a promising path for diversifying our national energy portfolio while at the same time combatting climate change and investing in communities.”
This renewable energy project supports President Biden’s Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. Interior has partnered with other federal agencies to increase renewable energy production on public lands and waters, with a goal of permitting at least 25 gigawatts of onshore renewable energy by 2025 and a commitment to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.
In 2015, the BLM approved three solar energy projects in June 2015 as a result of a competitive leasing auction and successfully completing the environmental assessment. Now owned by EDF Renewables and known as the Switch Solar Project, the renewable energy project has been operational since December 2017 and producing 179 MW per year. The final two parcels were successfully bid by NV Energy and construction is expected to begin in 2022.
Construction of the project by Invenergy and AEP Renewables created approximately 300 jobs. Before construction began, more than 110 households and two commercial landscapers participated in the salvage of 643 cactus and yucca on the project site as part of an innovative effort to salvage native vegetation. Harvesting cacti and yucca (including Joshua trees) from public lands is illegal unless the BLM holds a sale.
“With its sunny skies, the Southern Nevada District boasts a robust renewable energy program,” said BLM Nevada State Director Jon Raby. “Almost 480 megawatts of renewable energy is already online within the state. Additionally, 1,340 megawatts are approved but not yet constructed, and the fiscal year 2021-2023 workplan includes phase one processing of three projects totaling 1,600 megawatts and phase two processing of projects totaling more than 1,000 megawatts , including conducting competitive processes for the Dry Lake East Designated Leasing Area and the Amargosa Solar Energy Zone.”
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.