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Colorado Solar News and Announcements

April 28, 2023

BLM Leases De Tilla Gulch SEZ for More Than $200,000

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) Rocky Mountain District held a successful lease sale of the De Tilla Gulch solar energy zone (SEZ), a designated leasing area located in Saguache County in south-central Colorado. The auction was held on April, 27, 2023, and Pine Gate Renewables secured rights to develop utility scale solar energy on 1,064 acres of BLM land in the San Luis Valley with a total winning bid of $200,744.88.

The lease is for a contiguous parcel of land identified and designated in 2012 as an SEZ — an area with both high potential for solar energy production and low potential for environmental or ecological impacts. Awarding the lease is a step in the solar energy development process and does not authorize construction.

For more information, see the BLM press release and the De Tilla Gulch SEZ page of the BLM National NEPA Register (ePlanning).

January 12, 2017

BLM Releases Strategy for Solar Energy Development on Colorado Public Lands

On January 12, 2017, the Bureau of Land Management issued a News Release to announce the release of the document "Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Colorado Solar Energy Zones – Final Report" (available at the BLM's Renewable Energy Mitigation webpage). The SRMS applies a landscape-level approach to managing solar development and mitigation on public lands in Colorado's San Luis Valley and New Mexico's Taos Plateau. It identifies natural, cultural and human resources that could be impacted by potential solar development in the three Colorado solar energy zones (SEZs), introduces measures to compensate for any unavoidable impacts, and identifies priority sites for mitigation.

The strategy also recommends a per-acre fee for solar development that would fund off-site compensatory mitigation measures. The standardized fee would provide solar developers with more certainty regarding the cost of potential solar development, and would ensure that any residual impacts of solar projects in the SEZs are addressed through mitigation.

The BLM first established SEZs in its Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development, finalized in 2012. The PEIS provided a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah by establishing SEZs with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those SEZs, and a process through which to consider additional zones and solar projects.

The SRMS is not a National Environmental Policy Act document or decision, but rather a strategy document meant to inform project-level development and permitting.

In addition to the SRMS, Colorado is announcing the availability of the final version of these supporting studies:

  • San Luis Valley – Taos Plateau Landscape-Level Cultural Heritage Values and Risk Assessment.
  • San Luis Valley – Taos Plateau Level IV Ecoregion Landscape Assessment.
  • Visual Resource Analysis for Solar Energy Zones in the San Luis Valley.
  • Modeling of Dust Levels Associated With Potential Utility-Scale Solar Development in the San Luis Valley-Taos Plateau Study Area.

The SRMS and supporting documents are available through the BLM's Renewable Energy Mitigation webpage. Please contact Nancy Keohane, Project Lead, at 719-269-8531 for more information.

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