BLM Lists 2011 Priority Renewable Energy Projects

March 23, 2011

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced on March 8 its 2011 list of 19 priority projects for developing onshore renewable energy on national public lands. The priority list includes nine solar projects, five wind projects, and five geothermal projects throughout the western United States. The solar projects—eight in California and one in Arizona—have a potential output of 2,673 megawatts (MW). The wind projects—three in California and two in Oregon—total about 1,024 MW of potential output. The five geothermal projects—four in Nevada and one in Utah —could yield 489 MW. Eight of the 19 priority projects fall into a category called "connected action" projects, which are on private land and require BLM authorization for offsite facilities.

BLM developed the list in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Park Service. The screening criteria for priority solar and wind projects, which were developed through BLM policy memoranda issued in February 2011, assisted in evaluating and screening these utility-scale projects on BLM-managed lands. To be a priority project, a company must demonstrate to the BLM that the project has progressed enough to formally start the environmental review and public participation process, and it must have the potential to be cleared for approval by the end of 2011. In addition, a project must be sited in where it minimizes environmental impacts. The projects are largely low-to-medium conflict, in accordance with the BLM's recent policy guidance on pre-application screening. See the BLM press release, the list of priority projects, and the BLM memoranda fact sheetPDF.