In 2017, the BLM updated its regulations (43 CFR 2800) for wind and solar authorizations on public lands. The regulations promote the use of designated leasing areas, preferred areas for renewable energy development that include the BLM’s Solar Energy Zones, Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Development Focus Areas, Restoration Design Energy Project Renewable Energy Development Areas, and other areas identified, analyzed, and approved for competitive solar or wind energy development in a BLM Resource Management Plan.
The rule establishes competitive processes, terms, and conditions (including payments, bonding, and public engagement requirements) for solar and wind energy development rights-of-way both inside and outside designated leasing areas and provides incentives for leases in the designated leasing areas. In these areas, the BLM may issue a solar energy right-of-way lease upon successful completion of a competitive process for a parcel. Solar energy development applications on lands outside of designated leasing areas, may also be made available through a competitive process and are authorized under a solar energy right-of-way grant as opposed to a lease.