Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Program Western Solar Plan
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Required Preliminary Meetings

The BLM will conduct initial screenings of potential variance applications through required preliminary meetings.

The BLM will require prospective applicants in variance areas to schedule and participate in two preliminary meetings with the BLM before filing a right-of-way (ROW) application (43 CFR 2804.10(a)).

The purpose of the first preliminary meeting is to discuss the status of BLM land use planning in the area; potential land use and siting constraints; potential environmental issues in the area; National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) sensitive resource maps and information; potential alternative site locations for the project; and the variance process itself, including cost-recovery requirements, application requirements, consultation requirements, public involvement requirements, and associated timelines.

The purpose of the second preliminary meeting is to initiate and ensure early coordination with Federal (e.g., NPS, USFWS, and U.S. Department of Defense [DoD]), State, and local government agencies and tribes as specified by the regulations (43 CFR 2804.10(b)). Cost-recovery fees will generally not be required for preliminary meetings.

BLM Review of Potential Variance Applications

Through these preliminary discussions, the BLM and coordinating agencies will identify the likely challenges in proceeding with an application in a proposed location and identify natural, visual, and/or cultural resource information that applicants would likely be required to gather to support the variance process. On the basis of internal review and collaboration with other agencies, the BLM may advise a potential applicant not to submit an application for a particular site and/or technology or to modify its proposed project. In providing such advice, the BLM will consider factors including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Lands within a solar energy zone (SEZ) could meet the potential applicant’s needs, including consideration of access to transmission.
  • The proposed project will be in conflict with landscape conservation strategies and/or landscape protection, conservation, or restoration objectives established in documents such as the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) or an applicable Resource Management Plan (RMP).
  • The proposed project poses a high potential for conflict with sensitive natural, visual, and/or cultural resources identified by the BLM, NPS, and/or USFWS.
Updated: 6/24/2013