Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Permitting and Program Resources
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Instruction Memoranda

Instruction Memoranda (IMs) are temporary directives that supplement the BLM's permanent Manual Sections and 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 several IM policies starting in 2004 to establish and refine a Solar Energy Development program. These IMs addressed the increased interest in solar energy development on BLM-administered public lands and provided interim direction for renewable energy development on public lands until completion of updated ROW regulations in 2017. Many of the policies included in IMs were temporary and superseded by the 2017 update to the ROW regulations.

Use of Competitive Processes Outside of DLAs

IM-2021-026, issued on April 15, 2021, provides guidance as to when the BLM may or may not use competitive processes to offer public land for solar and wind energy development outside of Designated Leasing Areas (DLAs). Except as otherwise provided in the IM, the BLM should offer land outside a DLA through a competitive process only when the BLM determines that competitive interest exists.

Solar Energy Rental Policy

IM 2021-005, issued November 10, 2020, implements rental schedule zone re-assignments for calculating bills related to Linear Rights-of-Way (ROW), as well as Solar and Wind development authorizations.

IM 2017-096, issued on September 14, 2017, provides guidance on the implementation of the solar energy ROW acreage rent and megawatt (MW) capacity fee schedules pursuant to the final regulations at 43 CFR 2806 published on December 19, 2016. IM 2010-141 had previously provided interim guidance on the rental provisions for solar energy ROW authorizations, but this IM was rescinded and updated with the issuance of IM 2017-096. The current rental fee schedules for solar energy ROW authorizations are effective thru 2021.

National Policy for Rights-of-Way Bonding

IM-2019-013, issued November 15, 2018, conveys policy and direction for requiring bonding determinations, and bonding where appropriate, on BLM ROW grants for authorized activities. The IM also includes templates, forms, and documentation requirements.

Solar Energy Applications—Technical and Financial Evaluations

IM 2017-099, issued September 14, 2017, provides guidance on the implementation of requirements to evaluate the technical and financial capabilities of an applicant or holder of a solar energy ROW grant or lease pursuant to the final regulations at 43 CFR 2800 published on December 19, 2016. IM 2011-060 had previously provided guidance on due diligence requirements, but it was rescinded and updated with the issuance of IM 2017-099.

Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act – Incidental Take Permit Guidance for Renewable Energy Development

IM 2017-040, issued January 19, 2017, provides guidance on on the processing of right-of-way (ROW) applications for wind and solar energy development projects that have the potential to result in eagle take. At the first preliminary application meeting for wind and solar energy proposals (including site and project area testing ROW applications), the BLM will inform applicants of potential eagle issues using information BLM has readily available. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has the responsibility for determining whether the proposed project will likely result in take of eagles.

Involvement of Grazing Permittee/Lessee with Solar and Wind Energy Right-of-Way Application Process

IM 2011-181, issued September 21, 2011, provides guidance to solar energy applicants and potentially affected permittee(s)/lessee(s) with allotment(s) that may be impacted by energy proposals. The IM clarifies 43 CFR 4110 (requirements for solar energy development applications that may affect livestock grazing operations) and also addresses potential mitigation and compensation strategies and the relationship of energy application steps/decisions with grazing administrative steps/decisions.