BLM seeks public input about leasing land for alternative energy

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The Bureau of Land Management is interested in establishing a competitive process to issue right-of-way leases for solar and wind energy development on public lands.

The federal agency published an advance notice of proposed rule-making, and is seeking public input in the process.

The BLM wants to create new rules to ensure fair access for leasing and capture the fair market value for the use of public lands. Existing regulations limit the competitive process to procedures for responding to overlapping right-of-way applications. The BLM is interested in finding out how to best offer public lands through a nomination and competitive process, instead of merely by right-of-way applications.

The federal agency will evaluate ways to establish a competitive bidding process within designated solar and wind energy development leasing areas, define qualifications for potential bidders and structure financial arrangements necessary for the process.

“The renewable energy resources on 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 public lands.”

The 60-day comment period will close Feb. 27. The BLM is interested in receiving comments about the following questions:

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.