The BLM will consider right-of-way (ROW) applications for utility-scale solar energy development in variance areas on a case-by-case basis.
The BLM will consider ROW applications for utility-scale solar energy development in variance areas on a case-by-case basis based on environmental considerations; coordination with appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies and tribes; and public outreach. The BLM will use current information and best available science in its evaluation of ROW applications in variance areas.
The responsibility for demonstrating to the BLM and other coordinating parties that a proposal in a variance area will avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate, as necessary, sensitive resources will rest with the applicant. The applicant is also expected to demonstrate that the proposed project is compatible with State and local plans and is capable of acquiring all required permits and authorities to implement the project. Applicants applying for a ROW in variance areas assume all risk associated with their application and should understand that their financial commitments in connection with their applications will not be a factor in the BLM’s evaluation process.
The components of the variance process are as follows:
ROW applications in variance areas will be deemed a lower priority for processing than applications in solar energy zones (SEZs). The BLM will typically process ROW applications in variance areas on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the BLM has the discretion to apply competitive procedures to variance areas. In making this determination, the BLM may consider variables such as public interest, market demand for solar energy development in the region (including markets in other states), expressions of interest from other parties, authorized use and/or ownership of adjoining lands, and the purpose of the project.