U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said the agency’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing 15 new renewable energy installations across the western U.S., including some that recently have begun commercial operation. Haaland provided an update on the projects Nov. 6 as she addressed the Western Governors Association Winter Meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Haaland highlighted several installations, including the 500-MW Oberon Solar Project in Riverside County, California, that includes energy storage and came online Nov. 3. Haaland also noted the Arlington Solar Energy Center, a 364-MW project in Riverside County that includes energy storage and entered commercial operation on Nov. 6.
The Biden administration has set a goal of 25 GW of onshore renewable energy generation capacity on public lands by 2025. Interior Dept. officials in a Nov. 3 call with media said the BLM in the past two years has approved 46 renewable projects on public lands. Officials said the installations have combined generation capacity of more than 11.2 GW.
The projects include 20 related to grid tie-ins and transmission line upgrades, according to the BLM, along with 16 solar and 10 geothermal power installations.
Momentum for Decarbonization
“The advancement of these projects reflects significant progress across the West to decarbonize our economy, create jobs, and help address the climate crisis,” Haaland said during the media call. “They also build on the tremendous momentum we’ve seen throughout this administration to [break] ground on transmission lines that will deliver this clean energy across the West.”
Officials said the BLM is currently processing 66 utility-scale onshore clean energy projects proposed on public lands across the western U.S. The installations have potential combined generation capacity of more than 33 GW. Officials also said nearly 200 applications for solar and wind development are in preliminary review, along with 95 applications for solar and wind energy site area testing.
The BLM this week is expected to 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 in Utah, and Lincoln, Nye, and White Pine counties in Nevada. The agency also this week will announce that construction has been approved for 500-kV gen-tie transmission line crossing public lands about 60 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona. That line will support the delivery of solar energy from the 150-MW Harquahala Sun installation in Maricopa County, Arizona.
The agency also this week has said it will hold a competitive geothermal lease sale in Nevada. The BLM said 45 parcels will be offered for sale, totaling more than 135,000 acres across 12 counties in the state.
The agency last week announced a plan for seven solar projects, with up to 5.3 GW of combined generation capacity, in Esmeralda County, Nevada. The Esmeralda 7 installation would be sited on nearly 119,000 acres of BLM-administered public lands.
“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 Haaland during her Nov. 6 meeting with governors. “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.”
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).