Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Permitting and Program Resources
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SEZ Policies

The 2012 Western Solar Plan established the following policies:

Solar Regional Mitigation Strategies

Section 8 of the 2012 Western Solar Plan stated that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would develop a regional mitigation plan or strategy for each solar energy zone (SEZ), to simplify and improve the mitigation process for future projects in SEZs. The plans would be developed through a transparent stakeholder and public engagement process. Appendix A, Section A.2.4 of the 2012 Solar PEIS, describes the elements of and process for developing these solar regional mitigation strategies (SRMSs).

Links to the SRMS documents are provided below.

Afton Solar Energy Zone (SEZ):
Arizona SRMS (3 SEZs):
Arizona SEZ Mitigation web pages (Agua Caliente, Brenda, and Gillespie)
Colorado SRMS (3 SEZs):
Utah SRMS (3 SEZs):

SRMS documents were not developed for the California SEZs, because projects within these SEZs would adhere to the mitigation requirements established in the DRECP Record of Decision.

While developing the above solar regional mitigation strategies, the BLM also released its draft Procedural Guidance for Developing Solar Regional Mitigation Strategies. That guidance is available below.

The regional mitigation strategies were conducted in accordance with the BLM's mitigation policy, Manual Section-1794, and Mitigation Handbook (H-1794-1).

Monitoring and Adaptive Management Strategies

Section 9 of the 2012 Western Solar Plan stated that the BLM would develop a monitoring and adaptive management strategy for its Solar Energy Program, to ensure that data and lessons learned about the impacts of solar energy projects would be collected, reviewed, and, as appropriate, incorporated into the BLM's Solar Energy Program and individual solar projects. The BLM developed such a long-term monitoring strategy for the Riverside East SEZ.

The BLM presented a framework for developing a monitoring and adaptive management plan in the 2012 Solar PEIS (Section A.2.4 of Appendix A), and also presented the elements of such a plan. The framework is based on the BLM's Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) Strategy for condition and trend monitoring of BLM-managed resources and lands. It also takes advantage of and augments other AIM efforts, including Rapid Ecoregional Assessments, the national landscape monitoring framework, greater sage-grouse habitat analysis, and an array of local, management-driven monitoring efforts. Section A.2.4 of the 2012 Solar PEIS also stated that the BLM would take an active role in the collection of priority baseline data for SEZs (especially at broader scales and via remote sensing) and the development of a consistent monitoring schema for SEZs. Monitoring costs could be reduced in SEZs because of the ability to pool investments for monitoring and coordinate with other Federal, State, and local agencies to maximize partnerships and data sharing.

Section 9 of the 2012 Western Solar Plan stated that “required design features and any additional mitigation measures identified in right-of-way (ROW) authorizations for individual projects will be monitored by solar energy project developers and the appropriate Federal agency to ensure their continued effectiveness through all phases of development. In cases where monitoring indicates that mitigation measures are ineffective at meeting the desired resource conditions, the BLM would take steps to determine the cause and take corrective action using adaptive management strategies. This information would also be used to inform the authorization of future solar energy development activities on BLM-administered lands.”

Incentives for Projects in SEZs

Section B.4.3 of the 2012 Western Solar Plan detailed incentives for projects developed in solar Energy Zones (SEZs). These included (in part):

  • Facilitating faster and easier permitting through prioritizing processing of these projects and undertaking interagency coordination to expedite service
  • Improved and facilitated Mitigation through the development of solar regional mitigation strategies
  • Facilitating the Permitting of Needed Transmission to SEZs
  • Encouraging Solar Energy Development on Suitable Lands Adjacent to SEZs, including public, private, State, tribal, or U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)-withdrawn lands (e.g., lands with low resource conflict or degraded, disturbed, previously disturbed, or contaminated areas)
  • Providing Economic Incentives for Development in SEZs, including longer phase-in period for rental payments, a fixed megawatt capacity fee, restructured bonding requirements, and other measures.