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Solar Energy Development Programmatic EIS news, events, and announcements.

November 26, 2014

BLM Extends Public Comment Period for Solar/Wind Competitive Leasing Proposed Rule and Announces Webinar

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has extended the comment period for the proposed rule that would promote the use of “designated leasing areas” that include the Bureau of Land Management's Solar Energy Zones. The proposed rule would establish competitive processes, terms, and conditions (including rental and bonding requirements) for solar and wind energy development right-of-ways both inside and outside the designated leasing areas and provide incentives for leases in designated leasing areas.

The proposed rule was initially published on September 30, 2014, with a 60-day comment period closing on December 1, 2014. The BLM is extending the comment period for 15 days beyond the end of the initial comment period. As a result of this extension, the comment period will close on December 16, 2014.

The BLM will host a webinar for interested parties on Wednesday, December 3rd, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss the competitive leasing proposed rule and answer any questions. The dial-in number for the webinar is: 1-888-324-4391; Passcode 7595414. The URL for the webinar is: http://anl.adobeconnect.com/blmleasing/. Please include your name and organization name (if applicable) in the name field when logging in to the webinar. For more information regarding the webinar, please contact Jayme Lopez by telephone at 202-912-7547, or by email at j06lopez@blm.gov.

September 30, 2014

BLM's Draft Competitive Leasing Rule for Wind and Solar Leasing Released for Comment

On September 30, 2014, the BLM issued its Draft Competitive Leasing rule for Wind and Solar Leasing in a Federal Register notice. Publication kicks off a 60-day comment period that closes on December 1, 2014. The proposed regulations would promote the use of "designated leasing areas" that include the BLM's SEZs. The rule would establish competitive processes, terms and conditions (including rental and bonding requirements) for solar and wind energy development rights-of-way (ROWs) both inside and outside the designated leasing areas, and provide incentives for leases in designated leasing areas. A Draft Environmental Assessment and an Economic Analysis supporting the draft rule are available on the BLM Solar Energy Program Web site.


August 15, 2013

Launch of BLM's New Solar Energy Program Web Site

The BLM has released its Solar Energy Program Web site (http://blmsolar.anl.gov), which is the online center for public information regarding the ongoing implementation of the Solar Energy Program. The Program was approved in October 2012 through the Record of Decision for the Solar PEIS.

The new Web site provides up-to-date information on the features of the BLM's Solar Energy Program for the purpose of aiding the public, solar energy developers, and regulators in understanding the BLM's requirements and incentives for utility-scale solar energy development on public lands.

In addition, the Solar Energy Program Web site offers an e-mail subscription service that will provide the latest news and announcements relating to the Solar Energy Program.


July 12, 2013

Withdrawal of Solar Energy Zone Lands

On June 27, 2013, a Public Land Order that withdraws 303,900 acres of land within the solar energy zones (SEZs) from location of mining claims that could impede development of solar energy sites became effective. The Public Land Order was published in the Federal Register on July 5, 2013. The lands had already been segregated from the mining laws under temporary measures (see Federal Register Notice of December 17, 2012). The Public Land Order extends the withdrawal for 20 years.

Under the Public Land Order, the public lands in SEZs have been withdrawn, subject to valid existing rights, from settlement, sale, location, or entry under the general land laws, including the mining laws.


February 8, 2013

Arizona Restoration Design Energy Project ROD

In January 2013, the Arizona Restoration Design Energy Project (RDEP) released a Record of Decision (ROD) and Approved Resource Management Plan Amendments. The ROD establishes 192,100 acres of renewable energy development areas on BLM land throughout Arizona. These areas have few known resource impacts or have been previously disturbed, and are available for solar or wind energy development. In addition, the ROD establishes the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone. The new Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone was developed under the guidance of the Solar Energy Development Programmatic EIS. The Final RDEP EIS and ROD are available on the BLM website.


October 15, 2012

Record of Decision for the Solar PEIS

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the Record of Decision for the Solar PEIS on Friday, October 12, 2012. For more information, see the Press Release. The Record of Decision is available below.

PDF Approved Resource Management Plan Amendments/Record of Decision (ROD) for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (6.9 MB)

The BLM also has issued its Protest Resolution Report addressing issues raised during the Final Solar PEIS protest period. This document is available below.

PDF Director's Protest Resolution Report: Programmatic Land Use Plan Amendments for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (373 KB)

October 12, 2012

Signing of the Record of Decision for the Solar PEIS

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the Record of Decision for the Solar PEIS today, October 12, 2012. For more information, see the Press Release. The Record of Decision will be made available on this Web site early next week.

The BLM also has issued its Protest Resolution Report addressing issues raised during the Final Solar PEIS protest period. This document is available below.

PDF Director’s Protest Resolution Report: Programmatic Land Use Plan Amendments for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (373 KB)

September 28, 2012

BLM Announces Completion of Solar Programmatic Agreement

On September 24, 2012, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) executed a Programmatic Agreement (PA) governing its compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for the proposed Solar Energy Program. Parties to the PA included the BLM, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and State Historic Preservation Officers from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah as Signatories and the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe as Concurring Parties. This PA establishes procedures the BLM will follow to meet its Section 106 obligations under the National Historic Preservation Act for all future, site-specific solar energy applications where the BLM is the lead Federal agency and the application is for projects on BLM-managed public lands. The PA does not apply to tribal lands.

The procedures detailed within the PA apply to all new solar applications processed under the Record of Decision for the Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). The PA establishes general principles governing BLM-tribal consultations and describes opportunities for tribal input into the specific steps in the Section 106 process.

Circumstances under which the BLM will consult with the ACHP to comply with requirements of 36 CFR 800 are defined in the PA. When the ACHP will not participate in consultations under 36 CFR 800.11, the PA creates a set procedures to properly complete inventories, determinations of eligibility and effect, and treatment/mitigation of adverse effects upon historic properties. Procedures to protect and consider historic properties in post-review discovery situations are described in the PA. The document also includes public reporting procedures for solar projects approved under these provisions.

The BLM Programmatic Agreement for the proposed Solar Energy Program is available below.

PDF Programmatic Agreement Regarding Solar Energy Development on Lands Administered by the BLM (157 KB)

July 27, 2012

Notice of Availability for the Final Solar PEIS

The Notice of Availability for the Final Solar PEIS has been published in the Federal Register, and is available below.

PDF Notice of Availability of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (196 KB)

July 24, 2012

BLM and DOE release Final Solar PEIS

The BLM and DOE are releasing the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States. The Final Solar PEIS is now available for downloading or browsing online. See the Press Release. The Notice of Availability will be provided after publication in the Federal Register.


April 20, 2012

BLM Releases Documents to Support Solar Energy Program

On April 20, 2012 BLM released documents supporting its efforts to establish a Solar Energy Program through the Solar Programmatic EIS. These documents, available through the Documents page of this Web Site, are a draft framework for developing a Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan, a draft framework for developing Regional Mitigation Plans, an updated version of the proposed programmatic design features, and a description of Class II Sample Surveys for some solar energy zones. The BLM has released these documents in response to requests to review and provide input on these program elements ahead of the publication of the Final Solar PEIS. Comments are being received by Shannon Stewart at shannon_stewart@blm.gov (202-912-7219). The BLM will consider comments received as it develops final versions of the frameworks and programmatic design features to be included in the Final Solar PEIS. Input on these topics would be most helpful if received before May 14, 2012.


January 27, 2012

Public Comment Period on Supplement to the Draft Closed

The public comment period for the Supplement to the Draft Solar PEIS closed on January 27, 2012, and comments are no longer being accepted through the project website.


December 16, 2011

Meeting for Supplement to the Draft Solar PEIS Added

A fifth meeting will be held in Colorado on January 11, 2012, at: Inn of the Rio Grande, 333 Santa Fe Ave., Alamosa, CO 81101.This meeting will also be announced at least 15 days in advance via local media and the DOE NEPA Website. For details, see Public Meetings.


October 27, 2011

Supplement to the Draft Solar Energy Development PEIS Available

The full text of the Supplement to the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States is now available for downloading or online browsing in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. See the BLM press release, BLM's Q & A Document, and the Notice of Availability for more information.


July 14, 2011

DOI and DOE Announce Next Step for the Solar PEIS

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced the next step in the Solar Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). The timeline for the PEIS will be extended to address key issues identified in public comments. The agencies intend to address these issues through preparation and release of a targeted supplement document.

Details on the content of the supplement document and expected schedule for issuance are available in the BLM Press Release.


May 2, 2011

Public Comment Period Closed

The public comment period for the PEIS closed on May 2, 2011, and comments are no longer being accepted through the project website.


April 15, 2011

Second Extension of Public Comment Period for Draft Solar PEIS

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have extended the public comment period for the Draft Solar PEIS. The public comment period has been extended through May 2, 2011. For additional information about the extension, see the BLM News Release.


March 17, 2011

BLM Solar and Renewable Energy Policies

On February 8, 2011, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released three policy memoranda providing guidance on the evaluation, screening, and processing of applications for utility scale wind and solar energy projects on BLM-administered lands.

These policies, along with the three pre-existing policies addressing solar energy development, are now available for viewing or downloading from this Web site.

The BLM's solar and renewable energy policies may be viewed or downloaded from the Documents page of this Web site.


March 11, 2011

Draft Solar PEIS Public Meeting Transcripts

The transcripts from seven of the public meetings for comment on the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement are now available on this Web site. The meetings for which transcripts are available are the following:

  • Washington D.C., February 2, 2011
  • El Centro, CA, February 7, 2011
  • Las Vegas, NV, February 15, 2011
  • Goldfield, NV, February 16, 2011
  • Caliente, NV, February 17, 2011
  • Sacramento, CA, February 22, 2011
  • Barstow, CA, February 23, 2011

Transcripts may be viewed or downloaded from the Public Meetings page of this Web site.

Transcripts for the other public meetings, the last of which was held March 10, 2011, are expected to be posted by mid-April or sooner. An e-mail will be sent to website subscribers notifying them when these transcripts are available.


March 7, 2011

Public Comment Period for Draft Solar PEIS Extended

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced a 30-day extension of the public comment period for the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Draft Solar PEIS), a joint effort with Department of Energy. The comment period has been extended 30 days beyond the original closing date of March 17, 2011, meaning that comments will now be accepted through April 16, 2011.

See the BLM News Release for additional information about the extension.


February 1, 2011

Solar Energy Development Draft PEIS Tucson Meeting Location Changed

The location for the Tucson, Arizona public meeting on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 has been changed to the following:

Tucson Marriott University Park
880 East Second Street
Tucson, Arizona 85719
(520) 792-4100

The meeting will begin at 7:00pm with an open house starting at 6:00pm as initially scheduled.


January 14, 2011

Solar Energy Development Draft PEIS Public Meetings Announced

The DOE and BLM have scheduled a series of public meetings in February and March 2011 for the Draft PEIS. The dates and locations of the meetings are now available on the Public Meetings page. See the Press Release announcing the meetings for additional information. Registration to speak at meetings is now open from the Public Meetings page.


December 16, 2010

Draft Solar Energy Development PEIS Available

The full text of the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States is now available for downloading or online browsing in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. See the BLM and DOE press releases and the Notice of Availability for more information.


December 16, 2010

Draft Solar Energy Development PEIS Maps Available

Maps and supporting spatial data files used in development of the Draft Solar PEIS are now available. Maps and spatial data are available in Adobe Acrobat, Google Earth, and Geographic Information System (GIS) formats. Spatial data may also be viewed in the interactive Web-based Solar Energy Environmental Mapper.


December 7, 2009

Panoramas of Proposed Solar Energy Zones Available

Thumbnail of panoramic imageInteractive panoramas of the proposed solar energy zones (SEZs) are now available. The Adobe Flash-based panoramas allow users to pan and zoom through high-resolution photographs of the proposed SEZs. The panoramas were constructed from photographs taken in the summer and fall of 2009 during site visits for the programmatic EIS.


October 20, 2009

Proposed Solar Energy Zone Scoping Comments Available

Public scoping comments received in response to publication of the proposed solar energy zone maps are now available for downloading/browsing. The maps identify 24 tracts of BLM-administered land for in-depth study for solar development. During the comment period (June 30-September 14, 2009), the Department of Energy and the Bureau of Land Management solicited input on environmental issues, existing resource data, and industry interest with respect to the proposed SEZs.

July 27, 2009

Public Scoping Period Extended to September 14, 2009

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (the Agencies) are issuing a Federal Register Notice of Extension to announce the extension of the public scoping period regarding proposed solar energy zones to be analyzed in the Solar Energy Development PEIS. The new deadline for public scoping comments is September 14, 2009. For more information, see the BLM Press Release.


July 23, 2009

Update on Proposed Solar Energy Zone Scoping Period and Revisions to Maps/Website Data

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (the Agencies) will soon announce in the Federal Register the extension of the public scoping period regarding proposed solar energy zones to be analyzed in the Solar Energy Development PEIS. More information will be provided when the Federal Register notice is available.

Several changes have been made to the information that was made available on this Web site on June 30, 2009 (see below). These changes include the following:

  • The existing designated corridors on the Proposed Solar Energy Zone maps for California have been updated; several corridors previously shown in error have been removed.
  • The acreages for three proposed SEZs (Mason Draw and Red Sands in New Mexico, and Escalante Valley in Utah) have been decreased to reflect small additional areas that were excluded.
  • A Google Maps application and a Google Earth KMZ file to aid in viewing the proposed SEZs have been provided under Solar Energy Development PEIS Maps.

June 30, 2009

Proposed Solar Energy Zone Maps and Additional Public Scoping

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (the Agencies) are announcing the availability of maps that identify 24 tracts of BLM-administered land for in-depth study for solar development. The Agencies are issuing a Federal Register Notice of Availability to inform the public of the availability of the maps; to solicit public comments for consideration in identifying environmental issues, existing resource data, and industry interest with respect to the proposed SEZs in particular; and to explain how BLM will address existing and future solar energy development applications on BLM-administered lands. See the BLM Press Release and Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.

The proposed SEZ maps are available in PDF format on the Solar Energy Development PEIS Maps page. Public scoping comments may be submitted via the Public Comment Form. See the Getting Involved page for information and instructions on submitting public comments. The public comment period ends July 30, 2009.


April 27, 2009

PEIS Schedule Update

The release of the Draft Solar Energy Development Programmatic EIS was originally scheduled for spring of 2009. The Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Energy have agreed to postpone completion of the Draft EIS in order to consider preliminary results of the Western Governors' Association's Western Renewable Energy Zone transmission study and to more closely align the proposed alternatives in the Draft EIS with the Secretary of the Interior's recently announced policies for renewable energy development from the public lands. The BLM is continuing to fine-tune the alternatives in the Programmatic EIS to identify, as much as possible, those areas or zones with the fewest resource conflicts where solar energy development could proceed ahead more quickly. Although the new schedule has not been finalized, it is estimated that the Draft EIS will be released in the fall of 2009.


March 11, 2009

Press Release: Secretary Salazar Issues Order to Spur Renewable Energy Development on U.S. Public Lands

Citing the critical need to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, build a clean energy economy and create new jobs, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has issued a Secretarial Order making the production, development, and delivery of renewable energy top priorities for the Department of the Interior (DOI).

In addition to making renewable energy production a top priority for the Department, Salazar's Secretarial Order establishes an energy and climate change task force that will spur this agenda and identify specific zones on U.S. public lands where the Department of the Interior can facilitate a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy. The Secretarial Order also instructs the task force to establish clear policy direction for authorizing the development of solar energy on public lands.

For more information, see the DOI Press Release.


Oct. 10, 2008

Solar Energy Development PEIS Scoping Summary Report Available

The scoping summary report, entitled Summary of Public Scoping Comments Received during the Scoping Period for the Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement is now available for downloading or browsing online under Documents. The report presents a summary of the comments that were received during the scoping period. The DOE and the BLM will use this report and the individual comments as part of a process to determine the scope of analysis in the PEIS.


Aug. 7, 2008

Scoping Comments and Scoping Meeting Transcripts Available

Public comments received during the scoping phase, including individual letters, comments received electronically, and oral comments presented at scoping meetings, are now available on this Web site, under Search Scoping Comments. Transcripts of the scoping meetings held in five Western states in June and July 2008 are also available on the Documents and Public Meetings pages.


July 2, 2008

BLM to Continue Accepting Solar Energy Applications

In response to public interest in solar energy development, the Bureau of Land Management is announcing that it plans to continue accepting applications for future potential solar development on the public lands. The BLM will process these applications, while continuing to identify issues during public scoping currently underway for the programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS).

For more information, see the BLM press release BLM to Continue Accepting Solar Energy Applications


June 20, 2008

Scoping Meeting Venues Confirmed for San Luis Obispo and El Centro

The venue for the scoping meeting to be held in San Luis Obispo CA at 6:00 PM on July 9 has been confirmed. The meeting will be held at the following location:

Embassy Suites San Luis Obispo
333 Madonna Road
San Luis Obispo, California 93405

The venue for the scoping meeting to be held in El Centro CA at 6:00 PM on July 10 has been confirmed. The meeting will be held at the following location:

County Administration Center
940 West Main Street, Suite 211
El Centro, California 92243

On-site registration begins at 6:00 PM local time. Presentations begin at 6:30 PM.

More information about scoping meetings, including online registration and links to maps, is available on the Public Scoping Meetings page.


June 16, 2008

Two Additional Scoping Meetings To Be Held in California

Scoping meetings have been added in San Luis Obispo, California on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 and El Centro, California on Thursday, July 10, 2008. The venue for both meetings is to be determined.

On-site registration begins at 6:00 PM local time. Presentations begin at 6:30 PM.

More information about scoping meetings, including online registration, is available on the Public Scoping Meetings page.


June 11, 2008

Tucson Scoping Meeting Venue Confirmed

CORRECTION: This news item incorrectly stated that the Tucson AZ meeting is on July 7. The Tucson AZ meeting is on July 8. The correction has been made below.

The venue for the scoping meeting to be held in Tucson AZ at 6:00 PM on July 8 has been confirmed. The meeting will be held at the following location:

Pima Community College, Downtown Campus
1255 North Stone Ave
Tucson, Arizona 85709

On-site registration begins at 6:00 PM local time. Presentations begin at 6:30 PM.

More information about scoping meetings, including online registration is available on the Public Scoping Meetings page.

Map/Directions

May 29, 2008

Solar Energy Development Programmatic EIS Public Information Center Web Site Launched

The Solar Energy Development Programmatic EIS Public Information Center Web site was launched May 29, 2008. This Web site is the online center for public information and involvement in the Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Solar Energy Development PEIS).

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Department of Energy (DOE); and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of the Interior (DOI), are preparing a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to evaluate solar energy development, develop and implement Agency-specific programs, and to amend relevant Agency land use plans to adopt a new Bureau-wide solar energy program. This Web site is the online center for public information and involvement in the PEIS process. For more information, see the BLM press release announcing the PEIS.


May 29, 2008

Notice of Intent Published in Federal Register

PDF Notice of Intent to Prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to Evaluate Solar Energy Development, Develop and Implement Agency-Specific Programs, Conduct Public Scoping Meetings, Amend Relevant Agency Land Use Plans, and Provide Notice of Proposed Planning Criteria (51 KB) published in Federal Register.