New Projects, Solar

Final rules set for permitting solar power on public lands

The Department of the Interior (DOI), in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE), will publish the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development on public lands in six southwestern states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

The Solar PEIS will serve as a roadmap for solar energy development by establishing solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, the fewest resource conflicts and incentives for development within those zones. The blueprint’s comprehensive analysis will make for faster, better permitting of large-scale solar projects on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.

The Final PEIS identifies 17 Solar Energy Zones (SEZs), totaling about 285,000 acres of public lands, as priority areas for utility-scale solar development, with the potential for additional zones through ongoing and future regional planning processes. The PEIS also allows for utility-scale solar development on approximately 19 million acres in so-called variance areas lying outside of identified SEZs. In total, the Final PEIS estimates a total development of 23,700 MW from the 17 zones and the variance areas.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), applauded the rules.

“Consequently, the Administration set a goal to permit 10 gigawatts of additional renewable energy projects on public lands by the end of this year. The U.S. solar industry is ready to meet that challenge,” Resch said in a statement. “Several impressive solar projects are under construction in the Southwest right now, adding this vital resource to our domestic energy supply, while delivering clean power and spurring new job creation.”

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