Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Program Western Solar Plan
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Instruction Memoranda

Instruction Memoranda (IM) are temporary directives that supplement the BLM's permanent Manual Sections which provide direction for its programs. Typically, an IM contains new policy or procedures, interprets existing policies, or provides one-time instructions that have not yet been included in a Manual Section.

The BLM developed and issued IM to establish and refine a Solar Energy Development Policy in 2004 (IM 2005-006), 2007 (IM 2007-097), and 2010 (IM 2010-141 and IM 2011-003). These successive IM addressed the increased interest in solar energy development on BLM-administered lands and provided direction for renewable energy development on public lands. These IM, along with additional IM developed from 2011 through 2014, described the BLM's Solar Energy Program and established procedures for considering and processing solar energy applications. IM topics included, but were not limited to, the following:

  • Processing of right-of-way (ROW) applications for solar energy development projects;
  • Establishing the maximum term for project authorizations, diligent development, and bonding requirements;
  • Potential best management practices for solar energy development projects;
  • Guidance on calculation of rent for utility-scale solar energy facilities;
  • Guidance on involving grazing permittees and lessees;
  • Guidance on Native American consultation; and
  • Guidance on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 analysis and BLM planning procedures for solar and wind energy development.
  • Information on solar inspection and enforcement requirements.

Specific IM that are still in active use include:

Solar Energy Interim Rental Policy

IM 2010-141 provides updated guidance on the rental provisions of ROW authorizations for solar energy projects on public lands administered by the BLM.

Solar Energy Development Policy

IM 2011-003 provides current guidance on the processing of ROW applications and the administration of ROW authorizations for solar energy projects on public lands administered by the BLM.

NEPA Compliance for Utility-Scale Renewable Energy ROW Authorizations

IM 2011-059 reiterates and clarifies existing BLM NEPA policy to assist offices that are analyzing externally generated, utility-scale renewable energy ROW applications. It includes examples and guidance applicable to renewable energy ROW applications that supplement information in BLM's NEPA Handbook (H-1790-1). Utility-scale renewable energy projects are distinct from many other types of land and realty actions because of their size and potential for significant resource conflicts, as well as the priority that has been placed on them by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOl).

Solar and Wind Energy Applications—Due Diligence

IM 2011-060 provides updated guidance on the due diligence requirements of ROW applicants for solar and wind energy development projects on public lands administered by the BLM.

Solar and Wind Energy Applications—Pre-Application and Screening

IM 2011-061 provides updated guidance on the review of ROW applications for solar and wind energy development projects on public lands administered by the BLM.

Native American Consultation and Section 106 Compliance for the Solar Energy Program Described in the Solar PEIS

IM 2012-032 provides the schedule, procedures, and responsibilities for ongoing Native American consultation after completion of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for BLM's Solar Energy Program. It also transmitted a revised Draft Programmatic Agreement (PA) governing the BLM Solar Energy Program's compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Regional Mitigation Approach

IM 2013-142 and the attached Draft – Regional Mitigation, Manual Section 1794 outline interim policy for taking a regional approach to mitigating project impacts. The Manual Section 1794 provides policy, procedures, and instructions for regional mitigation strategies, regional mitigation planning, and mitigation implementation.

Solar Inspection and Enforcement

IM 2014-019 provides information on inspection and enforcement requirements for solar and wind energy projects located on BLM-administered lands.

Updated: 1/30/2017