As part of the effort to diversify the nation's energy supply and develop renewable energy resources, the Bureau of Land Management has issued updated policy guidance for processing applications for solar energy projects on public lands.
The BLM also continues to evaluate the feasibility of installing photovoltaic (PV) systems on administrative facilities, as well as on range improvements and resource monitoring, public safety, and recreation projects on public lands. Some 600 PV systems generating 135 kilowatts are currently installed in BLM-owned facilities, supplying nearly 200 megawatt-hours of power annually. The second phase of a contract will be awarded soon to install additional renewable energy technologies, including solar energy systems at the BLM Field Office in Medford, Ore., and the Anasazi Heritage Center at the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado.
Solar energy has significant potential in the Western states, where approximately 370 megawatts of solar power are currently installed.
Authorizing solar energy projects on public lands is part of the BLM's effort to meet the goal Congress set in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 – seeking by 2015 to approve non-hydropower renewable energy projects on federal lands that generate at least 10,000 MW of electricity. The BLM manages 258 million surface acres – more land than any other federal agency – located mostly in 12 western states, including Alaska.