The Bureau of Land Management is ramping up the development of renewable power production on public lands, initiating the review of three proposed solar projects in Arizona that would add more than 1 GW to the grid and updating its decade-old guidance for planning solar development on public land.
On Monday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said scoping meetings were imminent for the up to 600-MW Jove solar project in La Paz County and announced a two-year segregation of more than 4,400 acres of public land for two proposed solar projects – the 300-MW Pinyon Solar project in Maricopa County, and the 300-MW Elisabeth Solar project in Yuma County.
Haaland also announced that BLM will update its 2012 guidance for the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, or PEIS, for Solar Energy Development in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. BLM will post a notice of intent in the Federal Register this week, giving stakeholders 60 days to provide feedback before it begins drafting an update.
The notice asks for public comment “concerning the scope of the analysis, potential alternatives, and identification of relevant information and studies.”
The PEIS, which BLM developed along with the Department of Energy, “identified areas with high solar potential and low resource conflicts in order to guide responsible solar development and provide certainty to developers,” the Department of the Interior said in a Monday release.
The PEIS is being updated “in light of improved technology, new transmission and ambitious clean energy goals” that emerged over the last ten years.
“As part of this update, the BLM is considering adding more states, adjusting exclusion criteria and seeking to identify new or expanded areas to prioritize solar deployment,” the release stated.
The three new solar projects in Arizona join a total of 65 proposed “utility-scale onshore clean energy projects” on Western public lands that BLM is currently processing, which include wind and geothermal projects in addition to solar.
“These projects have the combined potential to add over 31,000 megawatts of renewable energy to the western electric grid,” said the release. “The BLM is also undertaking the preliminary review of more than 100 applications for solar and wind development, as well as nearly 50 applications for wind and solar energy testing.
Correction: We have updated the size of the proposed Pinyon Solar project based on new information the company provided.