Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Permitting and Program Resources
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Federal Regulations

The principal BLM regulations that affect the processing of right-of-way (ROW) applications for development on public lands are included in 43 CFR 2800. These regulations were originally published in 2005 under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. The most recent updates which specifically address permitting requirements and procedures for solar and wind ROWs were issued through a Federal Register notice (FR Vol 81, No 243, pages 92122-92230) on December 19, 2016 and became effective on January 17, 2017. The regulations defined requirements for competitive leasing within “designated leasing areas” (DLAs) and the non-competitive permitting process for issuing solar energy ROWs on other public lands. The 2017 rule streamlines the review processes and provides financial incentives designed to encourage development within DLAs. Specifically, the rule:

  • Incentivizes development in areas with the highest generation potential and fewest resource conflicts, called DLAs, by: (i) providing financial incentives to developers, including less frequent adjustments to rent and longer phase-ins for other fees; (ii) allowing standard bonds as opposed to bonds based on full reclamation costs; (iii) awarding leases in these areas through competitive processes; and (iv) streamlining the leasing process by, for example, granting applicants site control earlier;
  • Ensures transparency and predictability in rents and fees — for example, gives developers the option of selecting fixed rate adjustments instead of market-based adjustments;
  • Updates the BLM's current fee structure in response to market conditions, which will bring down near-term costs for solar projects; and
  • Broadens the BLM's authority to utilize competitive processes outside of designated leasing areas.

The rule also complements BLM's landscape-scale planning efforts, including the 2012 Solar PEIS, California's Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, and Arizona's Restoration Design Energy Project.