The Bureau of Land Management Arizona State Office has announced a two-year segregation of more than 4,400 acres of public land in Maricopa and Yuma Counties to allow for the consideration of two proposed utility-scale solar energy projects. This is a first step taken before the BLM initiates environmental analysis of the two proposed projects under the National Environmental Policy Act.
“Segregations like these help ensure that the BLM has the ability to carefully examine and consider the potential development of renewable energy proposals without being hindered by incompatible or conflicting land use proposals or filings during the environmental analysis and application review process,” said Mark Morberg, BLM Arizona’s Deputy State Director for Lands, Minerals, Energy & Cadastral Survey.
The total area identified for segregation is 4,439.92 acres. The proposed Pinyon Solar (Avantus) project area contains 1,879.92 acres of public lands managed by BLM in Maricopa County, Arizona, approximately 10 miles west of the City of Maricopa. The proposed Elisabeth Solar (Leeward Energy) project area, on public lands within the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, consists of 2,560 acres in Yuma County, Arizona, approximately 75 miles east of the City of Yuma, and 12 miles north of Dateland, Arizona.
The BLM manages vast stretches of public lands that have the potential to make significant contributions to the nation’s renewable energy portfolio. To promote the development of these energy sources, the BLM provides sites for environmentally sound development of renewable energy on public lands. During a visit to Arizona this week, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis highlighted these projects, noting that the efficient deployment of renewable energy from our nation’s public lands is crucial in achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, as well as Congress’ direction in the Energy Act of 2020 to permit 25 gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025.
Across the West, the BLM is currently processing 65 utility-scale onshore clean energy projects proposed on public lands. This includes solar, wind and geothermal projects, as well as interconnection gen-tie lines that are vital to clean energy projects proposed on non-federal land. These projects have the combined potential to add over 31,000 megawatts of renewable energy to the western electric grid. The BLM is also undertaking the preliminary review of more than 100 applications for solar and wind development, as well as nearly 50 applications for wind and solar energy testing.
A Notice of Segregation published in the Federal Register this week sets the identified parcels aside from appropriation under the public land laws for two years, including location under the Mining Law, subject to valid existing rights, but not the Mineral Leasing Act or the Materials Act.