The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it is soliciting interest for utility-scale solar energy development on nearly 90,000 acres of public land located across Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico, marking the Bureau’s largest solicitation for solar development interest since it designated 17 solar energy zones in a comprehensive 2012 solar energy planning effort.
The specific areas identified in this solicitation include: within Colorado – Antonito Southeast Solar Energy Zone (9,712 acres), DeTilla Gulch Solar Energy Zone (1,064 acres), and Los Mogotes East Solar Energy Zone (2,650 acres); within Nevada – Dry Lake Valley North Solar Energy Zone (25,069 acres), Gold Point Solar Energy Zone (4,596 acres), and Millers Solar Energy Zone (16,534 acres); and within New Mexico – Afton Solar Energy Zone (29,964 acres).
The solar energy zones were previously analyzed and designated in the BLM’s 2012 Western Solar Plan, which was the product of extensive stakeholder involvement, including conservation organizations, state and local governments, Tribal Nations, solar energy industry representatives, and cooperating federal agencies.
“Scaling-up support for responsible renewable energy production is one of the BLM’s top priorities as we work across the Department of the Interior to lead the way in creating a clean energy economy in the United States,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “Today’s request for interest in these solar energy zones is an opportunity to expand the opportunities for the industry as we work to do our part to meet America’s energy needs.”
The solicitation builds on the announcement made earlier in December that BLM had identified 1,400 square miles of public land, which could support 100 GW of solar. BLM also approved the construction of the Arica and Victory Pass solar projects in California. The two have a planned combined capacity of 465 MW solar, 400 MW battery energy storage. The projects represent a $689 million investment and an estimated $5.9 million in annual operational economic benefit.
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It’s about time. Let’s get started. As criticism arises regarding aesthetics and alternative land use, I hope proponents including the President remind everyone that this is necessary to curtail climate change AND that the land will not be permanently changed and can be put back into its original condition with just a little effort if or when appropriate.
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