Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Program Western Solar Plan

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This website is the online center for public information regarding the ongoing implementation of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Solar Energy Program (also known as the Western Solar Plan), approved in October 2012 through the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (Solar PEIS). The website will provide 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. Solar PEIS documents and other information relevant to preparation of the Solar PEIS are available through the Solar PEIS website.

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Solar Energy Program

Comprehensive information on the program, including summaries of the legal, regulatory, and policy requirements for utility-scale solar energy development on public lands. This section also includes required design features (i.e., required mitigation measures) and information on compliance with other laws, such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. more »

Solar Energy Zones (SEZs)

General SEZ information, competitive leasing requirements, the protocol for identifying new or expanded SEZs, detailed information on individual SEZs, SEZ-specific design features, and long-term requirements for monitoring and mitigation. New data for individual SEZs will be provided as it becomes available (e.g., cultural survey data, groundwater information and models). more »

Variance Areas

Variance areas include about 19.3 million acres of public lands outside of SEZs. The policies that will be applied to site-specific proposals within variance areas are presented. These policies address early coordination with other agencies and the public, and early evaluation of variance ROW applications. more »

Project Authorizations

The ROD for the Final PEIS for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States did not authorize any on-the-ground solar energy development. The Solar Energy Program requires additional, site-specific analyses prior to approval of utility-scale solar energy projects. The robust analysis in the Solar PEIS will be incorporated into the evaluation of future site-specific projects through “tiering.” The analyses from the Solar PEIS will be applied, to the extent appropriate, to future proposed utility-scale solar energy projects, allowing future project analyses to focus on site-specific conditions and issues not fully addressed in the Solar PEIS. This is expected to streamline future decision-making on proposed utility-scale solar energy developments on BLM-administered public lands. This website contains links to the analysis that will be incorporated into future project authorizations.