Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory

EVS launches new Solar Energy Program website for the Bureau of Land Management

August 22, 2013

EVS designed and recently released a new website for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Renewable Energy Coordination office. The website (http://blmsolar.anl.gov) is the online center for public information related to BLM’s Solar Energy Program, which was approved for implementation through a BLM Record of Decision in October 2012. The site’s up-to-date information on requirements and potential locations for utility-scale solar energy development on public lands will help the public, solar energy developers, and regulators understand requirements and incentives for development.

The new site features comprehensive information on the Solar Energy Program, including summaries of legal, regulatory, and policy requirements and required mitigation measures for development of utility-scale solar facilities on public lands. Utility-scale facilities are defined as those generating 20 megawatts or more of power for delivery to the transmission grid; only such larger solar facilities are addressed under the Solar Energy Program.

The site provides details about Solar Energy Zones (SEZs) — areas well suited for utility-scale production, where the BLM will prioritize solar energy development. To date, 19 SEZs have been identified in six states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah). Additional SEZs are expected to be identified in the future.

The website explains the process for submitting applications for solar facilities in variance areas (BLM-administered lands outside of SEZs that are not otherwise excluded). Maps of SEZs, areas excluded from development, and application locations are available in PDF format or as downloadable spatial data. Also available are documents related to the Solar Energy Program, news, an e-mail subscription service, a glossary, and related links.

Map from the new website showing areas excluded from solar development in Colorado
Map from the new website showing areas excluded from solar development in Colorado [Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

The EVS staff members who assisted the BLM in the July 2012 completion of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (Solar PEIS) were uniquely qualified to construct the website and will continue contributing their expertise by maintaining the site.