BLM Seeks Comments on Development of Regulations for Competitive Leasing of Solar and Wind Energy on Public Lands

(Jan 7, 2012) - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today published in the Federal Register an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to give the public background information about the BLM’s interest in establishing an efficient, competitive process for issuing right-of-way (ROW) leases for solar and wind energy development on the public lands. The BLM believes such a process would help ensure fair access to leasing opportunities for renewable energy development and capture fair market value for the use of public lands, as required under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. Existing regulations limit the competitive process to procedures for responding to overlapping right-of-way applications. The BLM is seeking input on how best to offer public lands through a nomination and competitive process instead of just by right-of-way application.

The BLM intends to evaluate ways to establish competitive bidding procedures for lands within designated solar and wind energy development leasing areas, define qualifications for potential bidders, and structure the financial arrangements necessary for the process.

"The renewable energy resources on America's public lands are enormous,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey.  “The competitive options we are evaluating are part of our commitment to improving the process by which we provide access for responsible renewable energy development while providing a fair return for the use of the public lands."

Today's announcement begins a 60-day comment period that closes on February 27, 2012. The BLM is particularly interested in receiving comments on the following questions relating to regulations for a competitive process for solar and wind energy development on the public lands:

  1. How should a competitive process be structured for leasing lands within designated solar and wind energy development leasing areas?
  2. Should a competitive leasing process be implemented for public lands outside of designated solar and wind energy development leasing areas? If so, how should such a competitive leasing process be structured?
  3. What competitive bidding procedures should the BLM adopt?
  4. What is the appropriate term for a competitive solar energy ROW lease?
  5. What is the appropriate term for a competitive wind energy ROW lease?
  6. Should nomination fees be established for the competitive process? If so, how should the fees be determined?
  7. How should the bidding process for competitive solar and wind energy ROW leases be structured to ensure receipt of fair market value?
  8. Should a standard performance bond be required for competitive solar and wind energy ROW leases and how should the bond amount be determined?
  9. What diligent development requirements should be included in competitive solar and wind energy ROW leases?
The BLM is also interested in receiving any other comments regarding the content and structure of the competitive process for solar and wind energy development. Because this discussion is specifically focused on the development of the competitive process, comments are not being requested regarding solar and wind energy environmental issues.

The BLM manages more land - over 245 million acres - than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.


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