Expanding renewable energy
The BLM manages vast stretches of public lands that have the potential to make significant contributions to the nation’s renewable energy portfolio. For example, the BLM has identified portions of public lands that have excellent solar and wind energy potential, and significant geothermal energy resources. To promote the development of these energy sources, the BLM provides sites for environmentally sound development of renewable energy on public lands. This is a significant role in the Biden Administration’s priorities on renewable energy.
To approve these sites for renewable energy projects, the Department of the Interior and the BLM work with tribal governments, local communities, state regulators, industry, and other Federal agencies.
The efficient deployment of renewable energy from our nation’s public lands is crucial in achieving the Biden Administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, as well as Congress’ direction in the Energy Act of 2020 (P.L. 116-260) to permit 25 gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025.
As of May 2021, permitted renewable energy projects on BLM-managed lands include 36 wind projects with a total capacity of more than 2,900 MW and 37 solar projects with a total capacity of more than 7,000 MW. The most recent large-scale approval of a project on BLM-managed lands occurred on May 3, 2021, when the BLM announced the final approval of the Crimson Solar Project in the California desert. The Crimson Solar Project represents an investment of roughly $550 million and has the potential to deliver enough electricity to power approximately 87,500 homes.
The BLM is also currently processing dozens of utility-scale renewable energy applications like the Oberon Solar Project in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan and unlocking new opportunities for renewable energy through new large-scale bulk-electricity transmission, such as the authorized Ten West Link project in Arizona, and proposed Greenlink West and Greenlink North projects in Nevada.
The BLM has authority to manage geothermal leasing on hundreds of millions of acres of federal mineral estate, as allowed under applicable land use plans. There are currently 47 operating power plants developing geothermal energy from BLM-managed lands, with a combined total of approximately 2,500 MW of generation capacity.
Applications for wind and solar energy projects may be processed and authorized as rights-of-way under Title V of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, as amended, and Title 43, Part 2800, of the Code of Federal Regulations. Wind and solar projects are authorized under right-of-way leases within designated leasing areas and are authorized under right-of-way grants in areas outside of designated leasing areas. Geothermal energy projects are processed under the Geothermal Steam Act, as amended and Title 43, Part 3200, CFR, and are authorized under leases and permits.
Learn more about renewable energy on your public lands: