Bureau of Land Management Arizona sets aside 4,400 acres for solar project considerations

Dec 12, 2022, 4:25 AM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — The Bureau of Land Management in Arizona announced on Wednesday it is separating more than 4,400 acres of public land across two sites for two years for utility-scale solar energy project considerations.

The agency is segregating approximately 1,880 acres for the Pinyon Solar project west of Maricopa and 2,560 acres for the Elisabeth Solar project north of Dateland in Yuma County.

The BLM segregates the land before conducting an environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.

“Segregations like these help ensure that the BLM has the ability to carefully examine and consider the potential development of renewable energy proposals without being hindered by incompatible or conflicting land use proposals or filings during the environmental analysis and application review process,” BLM Arizona’s Deputy State Director for Lands, Minerals, Energy and Cadastral Survey Mark Morberg said in a press release.

In 2021, 9% of Arizona’s total net energy generation came from solar, more power than all of Arizona’s other renewable energy sources combined, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The Biden administration has a goal of developing a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and permitting 25 gigawatts of renewable energy on public land by 2025. Arizona and the American Southwest are keys to reaching those marks.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis visited the Sonoran Solar Energy Project in Buckeye last week. They announced the BLM will develop a new plan for solar energy development on public lands: the Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, an update on a 2012 initiative.

“Our review of these proposed projects in Arizona, and a new analysis of the role public lands can play in furthering solar energy production, will help ensure we keep the momentum going to build a clean energy future, lower costs for families and create robust conservation outcomes on the nation’s lands and waters,” Haaland said in a press release.

The BLM Arizona office is currently reviewing three proposed solar projects in the state that could add one gigawatt of clean energy, according to the release.

The agency is scheduled to hold two public meetings in January on the proposed Jove Solar Energy project in La Paz County, which would produce up to 600 megawatts of energy from solar photovoltaic modules.

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Bureau of Land Management Arizona sets aside 4,400 acres for solar project considerations