Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Permitting and Program Resources
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Development Focus Areas

The DRECP Record of Decision (ROD) identified approximately 388,000 acres of development focus areas (DFAs) as areas with substantial energy generation potential, access to existing or planned transmission, and low resource conflicts.

The LUPA carried forward the Solar Energy Zones identified through the 2012 Western Solar Plan, with some adjustments based on new information. In general, BLM California follows the regulations and process for issuing grants non-competitively for DFAs, as described under 43 CFR 2800, specifically 2804.12(a)(b) and (c). Under 43 CFR 2802.10(a), the BLM CA may decide to follow a competitive process and issue a lease for solar development within DFAs.

The DFAs could provide enough land for the production of approximately 8,100 MWs of mixed technology renewable energy, using the DRECP's 20,000 MW planning assumption by the year 2040 for both public and private lands. The DFAs could support up to approximately 27,000 MWs with 2016 technology.

BLM LUPA Development Focus Areas by Ecoregion Subarea
Ecoregion SubareaDFA Acreage
Basin and Range49,000
Colorado Desert148,000
Lake Cahuilla 110,000
Mojave and Silurian Valley3,000
Pinto Lucerne Valley and Eastern Slopes21,000
South Mojave-Amboy5,000
West Desert and Eastern Slopes52,000

During its NEPA analysis for future renewable energy development in DFAs, the BLM will tier to the DRECP ROD analysis, as appropriate, in order to streamline the project-level review. Under NEPA, “tiering” refers to the coverage of general matters in broader environmental impact statements with subsequent narrower environmental analysis, incorporating by reference the general discussions and concentrating solely on the issues specific to the analysis subsequently prepared (40 CFR 1508.1(ff)). When processing future land use authorizations for renewable energy that differ from the technologies analyzed, the BLM will evaluate the adequacy of the existing analysis, and may require analysis beyond that necessary for tiering to the programmatic document.


Through the DRECP, BLM adopted a variety of incentives to steer future renewable energy development to the DFAs. Some incentives would require changes in BLM regulations and policies and would only apply if those changes are adopted. These incentives include those described for SEZs in the 2012 Western Solar Plan, with some modifications.

DRECP Incentives for Renewable Energy Development within Development Focus Areas on BLM-Administered Land
Development Focus Area Incentive
The BLM will commit to adhere internally to strict schedules (consistent with applicable laws)*
The DOI will undertake interagency coordination to expedite service and provide priority processing to projects in DFAs*
The BLM will maintain RECOs as long as needed to assist with efficient authorization of projects in DFAs*
The BLM may establish a competitive process for DFAs consistent with existing regulations or through new rulemaking2*
Prioritize development in DFAs, particularly in areas with high energy generation potential and low resource conflicts.*
The BLM will prioritize development in DFAs. This includes having a single point of contact per project and adopting internal procedures to ensure accountability to schedules and quality.*
The BLM will tier project-level NEPA analysis to the DRECP EIS for renewable energy projects in DFAs.*
The BLM will coordinate with DOD on potential applications for solar power towers and wind in DFAs identified by DOD as high or moderate risk to testing and training before accepting applications.*
The BLM will integrate planned transmission corridor improvements developed by the Transmission Technical Group.*
The DRECP defines mitigation requirements to simplify and improve the mitigation process and increase permit efficiencies and financial predictability for developers.
The BLM will develop and utilize appropriate tools to efficiently implement mitigation (Tools may include applicant and third-party implementation, and mitigation deposit accounts, such as the REAT-NFWF Mitigation Account).
The BLM will utilize the USFWS Region 8 golden eagle framework guidance, or most up to date document, as a means to facilitate the potential for streamlining future Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act permitting in the DFAs.
The BLM will utilize the analysis in the DRECP's ESA Section 7 consultation documents, and any other applicable DRECP documents, when considering project-level authorizations in DFAs.
The BLM will commit staff and prioritize projects that provide needed transmission to the DFAs.*
The BLM will prioritize transmission associated with DFAs, and will tier transmission NEPA to DRECP documents to the greatest extent practicable. *
Projects will require lower cost recovery in DFAs because of upfront data collection and environmental review.*
Projects will have a longer phase-in period for rental payments in DFAs.*
The BLM will charge fixed megawatt capacity fee rental payment for the life of the project in DFAs.*
The BLM will charge limited base acreage rental payments in DFAs.*
The BLM will restructure bonding requirements in DFAs (e.g., a fixed or standard bond per acre).*
The BLM will offer 30-year fixed term lease with fixed rental fee in DFAs.*
Development in DFAs should result in less administrative oversight and less need for administrative costs and processing time.*
Lands in DFAs would only be sold or exchanged if BLM determines the disposal would either facilitate renewable energy development or would not preclude such development.
DFAs where solar, wind, and/or geothermal can operate in the same area at the same time will be identified to facilitate the most efficient use of resources and space.
The mitigation/compensation requirements can be proportionally split between the two or three types of renewable energy projects sited on the same piece of ground and will not be additive.
To the extent practicable, surveys and assessments for wildlife or plant species and cultural resources will be combined or consolidated to address a dual or triple technology site.
Dual or triple technology projects can use a single NEPA document to analyze the project.
  1. Incentives marked with an asterisk (*) would be implemented through BLM Policy or Regulation and are not part of the Land Use Plan Amendment.
  2. The BLM may establish a competitive process for DFAs where appropriate under existing regulations at 43 CFR 2804.23. New regulations are also being prepared, as described in the ROD, as an implementation action from the 2012 Western Solar Plan, to facilitate a competitive leasing process for both solar and wind energy development in designated leasing areas (which would include DFAs).