- BLM will update its 2012 Solar PEIS to identify newer locations to provide public land in the US for solar energy development
- It will identify new or expanded areas to prioritize solar projects in more US states
- The agency is also initiating review of 3 proposed utility scale PV projects in Arizona representing a combined 1 GW capacity
The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been tasked by the Department of Interior to develop an updated plan to accelerate responsible solar energy development on public lands across the Western US which means more states could be added to the land availability list.
Currently, the BLM is using the 2012 Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) that covers high solar potential and low resource conflicts for solar energy development in 6 Southwestern US states namely Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
The updated Solar PEIS will add more states to the list with the BLM adjusting exclusion criteria and identifying new or expanded areas to prioritize solar development. A notice to update the 2012 Solar PEIS will be published in the Federal Register this week and open for a 60-day public comment period.
BLM is in charge of managing over 245 million acres of public land in 12 Western US states, including Alaska, along with administering 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. It is currently processing 65 utility scale onshore clean energy projects including solar, wind, geothermal and interconnect gen-tie lines, proposed on public lands representing a potential 31 GW renewable energy.
It is also initiating a review of 3 solar power projects proposed for Arizona with potential to add 1 GW clean energy to the grid. The list includes: 600 MW utility scale Jove Solar Project in La Paz County, 250 MW Pinyon Solar Project in Maricopa County and 300 MW Elisabeth Solar Project in Yuma County.
The Interior Department is aiming for 25 GW solar, wind and geothermal energy on public lands by 2025. “Our review of these proposed projects in Arizona, and a new analysis of the role public lands can play in furthering solar energy production, will help ensure we keep the momentum going to build a clean energy future, lower costs for families and create robust conservation outcomes on the nation’s lands and waters,” said US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.
In December 2021, BLM launched its largest solar development solicitation to site utility scale solar on 90,000 acres (see 90,000 Acres US Public Land Utility Scale Solar).