The Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) is located in Nevada in Dry Lake Valley in a semiarid basin with undeveloped scrubland. The SEZ is located on BLM-administered land within the Southern Nevada District.
In June 2014, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a competitive leasing auction for six parcels in the Dry Lake SEZ, selecting three potential developers. Results of the auction were summarized in a Southern Nevada District Office announcement. In December 2014, the BLM announced the availability of Environmental Assessments for three proposed photovoltaic projects in the Dry Lake SEZ. The BLM announced the approval of the three solar energy projects within the Dry Lake SEZ in June 2015 with issuance of a news release. One of these, the 179 MW Playa Solar project (also known as the Switch Solar project), began operation in December 2017. The development status of the other two projects (the 112 MW Harry Allen Solar project and the 130 MW Dry Lake Solar Energy Center) is unknown.
A Finding of No Significant Impact for the proposed resource management plan amendment to designate the Dry Lake East designated leasing area (DLA) was completed by the BLM in July 2019. The 1,800-acre Dry Lake East DLA is located across Interstate-15 immediately to the east of the Dry Lake SEZ. It was designated for photovoltaic solar development.
Additionally, in June 2019, the BLM issued a Draft EIS for the Gemini Solar project, located about 4 miles east of the Dry Lake SEZ and extending north to the boundary of the Moapa River Indian Reservation. This 690 MW PV project, if authorized and built, would include development of about 7,100 acres of BLM-administered lands.
In the Draft Solar PEIS the proposed Dry Lake SEZ had a total area of 15,649 acres (63 km2). In the Supplement to the Draft, the SEZ was reconfigured to include only the southernmost area northwest of I-15, in order to mitigate impacts on various resources, including impacts on desert tortoise and potential impacts on military operations. In addition, 469 acres (1.9 km2) of floodplain and wetland non-development areas within the remaining SEZ boundaries were identified. The remaining developable area within the SEZ is 5,717 acres (23 km2). No additional changes to the SEZ developable area were made in the Final Solar PEIS.
The Dry Lake SEZ is located in Clark County in southern Nevada, in an undeveloped rural area in Dry Lake Valley, bounded on the west by Arrow Canyon Range and on the southeast by Dry Lake Range. In 2008, the population of Clark County was 1,879,093. The towns of Moapa and Overton are as close as about 23 mi (37 km) northeast and 26 mi (42 km) northeast of the SEZ, respectively.
The land within the Dry Lake SEZ is undeveloped scrubland, characteristic of a semiarid basin. Vegetation within the SEZ is predominantly creosotebush and other low shrubs.
Lands within and near the SEZ contain multiple transmission lines and related facilities, several power plants and other industrial facilities, mining operations, I-40, other roads, and a railroad. In addition, there is debris scattered throughout the SEZ.
The nearest major roads accessing the Dry Lake SEZ are I-15, which runs along the southeastern border of the SEZ, and U.S. 93, which runs along the southwest border of the SEZ. Two designated transmission corridors that are heavily developed with numerous natural gas, petroleum product, and electric transmission lines (including a 500-kV transmission line) pass through the SEZ.