Interior Department Advances Several Renewable Energy Projects

Solar panels on public lands

(Credit: Bureau of Land Management)

by | Nov 14, 2023

The Department of the Interior unveiled plans to advance 15 onshore renewable energy projects, furthering the United States’ goal of permitting 25 gigawatts of renewables on public lands by 2025.

Projects are to be built across the Western U.S., adding to the 66 utility-scale onshore clean energy project proposals on public lands in the region currently being processed.

Projects Accompany Numerous Clean Energy Project Permits, Applications

The projects at hand are in differing stages of development, including the achievement of full operational status for two solar and battery projects in California and permitting milestones for proposed transmission lines across Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

Nevada is also taking the next steps for geothermal energy development and environmental review for seven solar projects. Finally, Arizona has a solar and battery storage project under environmental review.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is also beginning preliminary review of over 192 applications for solar and wind energy development as well as 95 applications for solar and wind site area testing.

“The BLM’s work to responsibly and quickly develop renewable energy projects is crucial to achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “Investing in clean and reliable renewable energy represents the BLM’s commitment to addressing climate change and supports direction from the President and Congress to permit 25 gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025.”

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said that the 15 projects being advanced will add enough energy to the grid to power millions of homes.

Public Lands a Key Factor in U.S. Clean Energy Transition

Historically, public lands have been used to support fossil fuel development, with 24% of total U.S. emissions stemming from oil, gas, and coal development at present. The federal government has also reportedly offered 461 million acres of public land and waters for oil and gas development from 2017 to 2020.

However, the BLM has taken steps to further clean energy on public lands as they span over 840 million acres of land and hold immense potential for clean energy project development. Earlier this year, the Department of Energy partnered with the BLM to allot $3.5 million towards renewable energy research on public lands, and a number of major solar and other renewables projects have taken place in recent years.

Along with the 15 advancing projects, the BLM announced that the Oberon Solar Project and the Arlington Solar Energy Center in California will be fully operational.

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