BLM oversees millions of acres of public land with high solar energy potential. Climate concerns, state renewable power portfolio standards, investment taxes credits, technological advances and decreasing equipment costs are all factors that drive interest in utility-scale solar energy development on public land. We expect private companies to continue to be interested in this resource on public lands. We have approved solar projects since.
The 245 million acres of public land that the BLM manages has a combined total of 870,000 acres designated for solar energy development in its land use plans. These prioritized areas can support more than 100 gigawatts, which is enough to power nearly 29 million homes. The BLM also has more than 19,000,000 acres that are open to potential solar development. This is subject to a variance process.
Over the past decade, solar energy has experienced dramatic increases in deployments both in the United States as well as worldwide. Recent Executive Order 14008, and the Energy Act of have given priority to the BLM’s efforts to improve the permitting process in order to allow responsible deployment of renewable energy on public land. Many western states have laws that require energy companies in the west to source a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources. The BLM continues to receive interest from solar developers looking for projects on public lands.
Solar energy development projects on BLM-managed public lands are authorized as rights-of-way under Title V of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of as amended consistent with appropriate BLM land-use plans. The 43 CFR 2800 regulations outline requirements for permitting and application for solar development. All applications for solar energy use on public land require payment of cost-recovery fees. Also, all proposals must be reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act as well as other laws and regulations. In October the BLM approved its first solar energy project on public land. As of May there are 37 approved solar energy projects totaling more that 7,000 megawatts.