Biden-Harris Administration Advances 15 Onshore Renewable Energy Projects With Potential to Power Millions of Homes
During remarks at the Western Governors Association Winter Meeting today, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced that the Interior Department is advancing 15 onshore renewable energy projects across the West. The Bureau of Land Management is making progress across several states, including achieving full operational status for two solar and battery storage projects in California, permitting milestones for transmission lines proposed across Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, next steps for geothermal energy development in Nevada, and progress on environmental reviews for seven solar projects proposed in Nevada and a solar and battery storage project in Arizona.
Together, these projects represent continued momentum from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda — a key pillar of Bidenomics — which is working to accelerate transmission buildout to lower consumers’ energy costs, prevent power outages in the face of extreme weather, create good-paying union jobs, tackle the climate crisis, advance the goals of clean air and environmental justice for all, and achieve the President’s goal of a 100% clean electricity grid by 2035.
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to expanding clean energy development to address climate change, enhance America’s energy security and create good-paying union jobs. The projects we are advancing today will add enough clean energy to the grid to power millions of homes,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Through historic investments from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the Interior Department is helping build modern, resilient climate infrastructure that protects our communities from the worsening impacts of climate change.”
“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.”
The Biden-Harris administration is expanding renewable energy technologies like wind, solar, and geothermal across public lands while upholding essential regulatory and review processes to avoid adverse human, environmental, and wildlife impacts. Since 2021, the BLM has approved 46 clean energy projects (16 solar, 10 geothermal, and 20 gen-tie transmission lines) on approximately 35,000 acres of BLM-managed lands. These projects are expected to produce up to 11,236 megawatts of electricity — enough to power over 3.5 million homes.
The BLM is currently processing 66 utility-scale onshore clean energy projects proposed on public lands in the western United States. This includes solar, wind, and geothermal projects, as well as gen-tie lines that are vital to clean energy projects proposed on non-federal land. These projects have the combined potential to add more than 33 gigawatts of renewable energy to the western electric grid. The BLM is also undertaking the preliminary review of over 192 applications for solar and wind development, as well as 95 applications for solar and wind energy site area testing.
Today’s announcement follows recent Biden-Harris administration progress on accelerating transmission buildout, with a series of groundbreakings this year for new transmission lines that will connect communities across the West with clean, reliable, and affordable energy, including SunZia Transmission Project, Ten West Link and TransWest Express Transmission Project.
Onshore Renewable and Transmission Projects:
- Today, the BLM is announcing that the Oberon Solar Project, a 500-megawatt photovoltaic facility near Desert Center in eastern Riverside County, California, will be fully operational. The project includes up to 250 megawatts of battery storage and is delivering enough clean energy to power 146,000 Southern California homes. The project is sited on roughly 2,600 acres of BLM-managed public lands in an area scientifically analyzed and identified as suitable for clean energy development as part of the BLM’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. The DRECP is a collaborative effort between the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Energy Commission and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. To approve these sites for renewable energy projects, the Department and the BLM work with Tribal governments, local communities, state regulators, industry, and other federal agencies.
- Today, the BLM is announcing that the Arlington Solar Energy Center, also in Riverside County, is now fully operational. The facility will generate 364 megawatts, enough energy to power 111,000 homes a year, and will include 242 megawatts of battery energy storage. The BLM originally permitted this project, along with the McCoy Solar Project and Land Use Plan Amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan, in March 2013.
- Next week, the BLM will announce the Notice of Availability for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Cross-Tie 500-kV Transmission Project proposed in Beaver, Juab, and Millard Counties, Utah and Lincoln, Nye, and White Pine Counties, Nevada. Six alternatives were analyzed in detail, including one alternative that was included following government-to-government consultation with the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation to avoid culturally sensitive areas in Spring Valley. This project was selected for funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law last week.
- Next week, the BLM will announce approved construction of a 500-kilovolt gen-tie transmission line crossing public lands about 60 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona. When completed, the transmission line will support delivery of utility-scale solar energy from the 150-megawatt Harquahala Sun solar generation facility into the grid.
New Lease Sale:
- Next week, the BLM will hold a competitive geothermal lease sale, offering 45 parcels totaling about 135,067 acres across Churchill, Esmeralda, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Pershing, White Pine, and Washoe counties in
Opportunities for Public Comment:
- Today, the BLM will publish the Notice of Intent to Amend the Resource Management Plan and prepare an associated Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Esmeralda Solar Projects in Esmeralda County, Nevada. The seven solar projects are expected to generate up to 5.3 gigawatts of electricity, which would be enough electricity to power approximately 4 million households. The Esmerelda 7 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement planning area covers 118,630.90 acres of BLM-administered public lands.
- Today, the BLM will announce it is developing a draft environmental assessment for the proposed Wabuska Geothermal Exploration Project in Lyon County, Nevada, which would assess the potential for future geothermal development on approximately 54 acres of public lands north of Yerington. If exploration shows the area is capable of commercial production, construction crews could create new pipelines that connect to existing infrastructure of the Whitegrass No. 1 geothermal energy plant on nearby private lands.
- Today, the BLM will announce that it has begun its environmental analysis of the proposed Ranegras Plains Energy Center Project in Yuma, Arizona with a 30-day public scoping period. The application for a right-of-way on public land proposes to construct, operate and maintain the Project, a 700-megawatt solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage system. The Project consists of solar photovoltaic modules, a battery energy storage system, electrical collection lines, a switchyard, operations and maintenance facilities, access roads, and temporary work areas. The Project has a proposed generating capacity of up to 700 megawatts and would connect to the regional electrical grid via a proposed 11-mile-long, 500-kilovolt gen-tie transmission line to the Delaney Colorado River Transmission Ten West Link Series Compensation Station.
- Last week, the BLM initiated a two-year segregation of 4,210.6 acres of public lands in Ely, Nevada, included in the right-of-way application for the Pantheon Solar project This step prevents the land from being sold or subject to new mining claims until the BLM can complete the variance application evaluation process, NEPA process, and reach a decision to either approve, approve with modifications, or deny the application. If approved, this project is anticipated to generate approximately 400 megawatts of renewable energy. The proposal includes a battery energy storage system with a proposed capacity up to 950 megawatts.
Courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior.
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