The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last month issued a request for proposals to develop solar projects on 3,714 acres of land identified as a Solar Energy Zone in Colorado. This is likely the first time the BLM has issued such a proposal in the Centennial State, if not throughout the rest of the states with Solar Energy Zones, however, some projects are already being developed on Solar Energy Zones in other states, like in California.
The lands identified in the RFP are managed by the BLM’s San Luis Valley Field Office and are in Conejos and Saguache counties. The first parcel offered in the RFP is the 1,064 acre De Tilla Gulch about seven miles east of Saguache. The second parcel is the 2,641 acre Los Mogotes East, which is about three miles west of Romeo.
"This process will facilitate the Department of the Interior's smart from the start approach of making lands available for development in the Solar Energy Zones designated by the Solar PEIS and also ensure that any proposed projects provide for full environmental analysis and public review," said Helen Hankins, state director of the BLM in Colorado.
The BLM made is making the offering in response to a proposal it received applications from EPG Solar 1, LLC to develop solar on both parcels. “This public notification is the first step to possible competitive solar energy development on public lands in the San Luis Valley,” it said. “Once the 60-day notice period closes, the BLM will review all submissions from interested parties to see if other companies are interested in developing solar energy in these areas.”
While the BLM’s use of public lands to develop all sorts of projects, from damns to mineral and oil and gas extraction, the agency, it’s parent, the Department of Interior and the Department of Energy worked together with public engaging environmental organizations and others to identify appropriate locations to install utility-scale solar projects on public lands. The approach is also streamlining the process for developers since the areas were previously mapped for their solar potential and are basically pre-approved for solar development. The agency identified Solar Energy Zones in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah.
Although these are apparently the first such projects in Colorado. Outgoing Department of the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, previously signed off on other projects proposed on what later became Solar Energy Zones in California.