The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has initiated the planning process to guide and expand solar development opportunities on BLM lands in the West. The goal of the current planning process, which kicked off on December 8, 2022, is to update the 2012 Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). The 2012 PEIS identified solar development zones in six southwestern states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The BLM’s current proposal is to expand those solar development zones into five additional states—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming—and to consider integrating the results of separate planning efforts completed in California (the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan) and Arizona (the Restoration Design Energy Project) into the broader Western Solar Plan.
The BLM is seeking feedback on the expansion of its Western Solar Plan, specifically regarding:
- Adding priority solar energy zones in the five additional states mentioned above
- Requesting ideas for potential incentives to increase opportunities for renewable energy development in priority and variance areas
- Modifying the variance process to improve efficiency
- Adjusting criteria for development exclusion areas
- Potentially redefining “utility scale” and other items in their notice
The BLM has already hosted a number of in-person open house scoping meetings. There are seven more opportunities for in-person attendance at these meetings, as well as a virtual option on February 13. More details can be found on the BLM ePlanning website.
If you are currently working on or considering development of utility-scale solar projects on BLM lands in any of these 11 states, contact your SWCA Project Manager or one of our experts below. We also encourage you to provide input and feedback to the BLM on its proposal to ensure that the updated Western Solar Plan meets your development and permitting needs. For details on the planning effort and how to comment or participate, visit the BLM website: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2022371/510