The Bureau of Land Management (the “BLM”) recently announced competitive lease sales for solar and geothermal development on public lands in the western U.S.
On November 9, 2021, the BLM will close the bidding period to lease over 4,800 acres in the Milford Flats South Solar Energy Zone in Beaver County, Utah for solar energy development. If these parcels are leased and fully developed, they have the potential to generate over 600 megawatts of electricity, enough electricity to power approximately 100,000 homes. In Nevada, the BLM is seeking public comment for the Luning Solar Energy Project, which will cover 560 acres dedicated to the expansion of an existing solar facility in Nevada.
Regarding geothermal energy development, on October 5, 2021, the BLM sold approximately 83,544 acres across eight different Nevada counties. The BLM decided to lease these 32 parcels after preparing environmental assessments (linked on the BLM’s ePlanning website) and finding no significant impact. Here, the leases allow for exploration and development of geothermal resources and may be extended if the lessee establishes production or proof of diligent exploration.
Similarly, in New Mexico, the BLM will offer almost 4,000 acres for geothermal lease on November 18, 2021 via a virtual sale. The parcels for these leases are in Hidalgo and Sierra counties. The environmental assessment resulted in a finding of no significant impact.
Additionally, on October 13, the Biden administration announced plans to promote expanded offshore wind development across the U.S. coasts. The Secretary of the Interior intends to sell wind leasing and development rights in state coastal waters, the central Atlantic and the gulfs of Maine and Mexico. The Interior Department is aiming for seven offshore wind lease sales by 2025, to help the United States generate power from the gusty winds at sea.
These lease sales support President Biden’s Executive Order, 14,008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (January 27, 2021), which requires an increase in renewable energy across the U.S. Specifically, the Biden administration announced a goal to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by 2050 and to double offshore wind energy production by 2030. As a result of these climate goals, in the past 10 months, 13 renewable energy lease sales have been initiated in the U.S.