In this updated roadmap, the Bureau of Land Management identifies public land in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming that are ideal for solar leases. By working closely with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, they have examined forecasts for national clean energy needs and determined that approximately 700,000 acres of public lands are required to meet those goals.
The Bureau of Land Management's preferred alternative in the updated Western Solar Plan will allow approximately 22 million acres of land to be open for solar application. This incredible opportunity gives the nation the flexibility it needs to expand its clean energy goals.
To make things even better, the Bureau of Land Management has strategically directed solar development to areas that have fewer sensitive resources and less conflict with other public land uses. They have also ensured that these areas are near existing transmission lines, making the whole process more efficient.
The Bureau of Land Management invested $4.3 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to update the Western Solar Plan. This investment has improved the solar development application process, providing developers with better predictability while still being able to address specific resource considerations. The updated plan also takes into account technological advancements that have occurred in the solar industry since the last planning effort over a decade ago.
Ben Norris, the vice president of regulatory affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association, expressed his excitement about the Bureau of Land Management's proposal. He highlighted the importance of this development in creating responsible solar development opportunities. Norris emphasized that the current policy favors oil and gas development, leaving only a fraction of the federal lands available for solar. However, the Bureau of Land Management's proposal is a huge step in the right direction and showcases the vital role solar power plays in our energy economy.
With this updated roadmap, the US government is embracing the potential of solar power in the Western states. This exciting news not only promises a brighter and cleaner future but also emphasizes the government's commitment to renewable energy.