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Record-Breaking Auction Held For Utility-Scale Solar Development On Public Lands In Nevada

Projects from the $105 million auction could produce nearly 3 gigawatts of clean energy.

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The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management held an auction for utility-scale solar energy development in Nevada this week, resulting in $105.15 million in high bids. The auction of four parcels across 23,675 acres in the Amargosa Desert could support nearly 3 gigawatts of renewable energy to the electrical grid. This is the highest-yielding onshore renewable energy auction in the agency’s history.

“This record-breaking auction for solar energy development is further evidence that the demand for clean energy has never been greater. The technological advances, increased interest, cost effectiveness, and tremendous economic potential make these projects a reliable path for diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Under President Biden’s leadership, this Administration is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach toward ambitious clean energy goals that will support families, boost local economies, and address the climate crisis.”

“This auction is an important next step towards responsible renewable energy development in this area of high interest,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis. “We will continue to work closely with our community partners and Tribal governments as we receive proposals for development on the successfully awarded parcels.”

The successful auction underscores the importance of the BLM’s work to identify areas with high solar potential and low resource conflicts in order to guide responsible solar development, expedite permitting, and provide certainty to developers. The Amargosa Valley Solar Energy Zone was one of 17 that the BLM initially identified in a 2012 blueprint on solar energy development in six states in the West. The BLM is currently updating this plan by considering adding more states and identifying new or expanded areas to promote responsible solar development.

The BLM also recently announced a proposed update of its renewable energy regulations to promote the development of solar energy on public lands, including by reducing fees for projects by around 80%, facilitating development in priority areas by streamlining review of applications, and delivering greater certainty for the private sector.

The auction resulted in the identification of provisional winners for leases on two parcels and for preferred applicants on two parcels. NV Energy, Inc. placed the high bids for both leases auctioned in the Amargosa Valley Solar Energy Zone. Parcel A includes 3,775 acres with a high bid of $35.25 million, and Parcel B includes 3,451 acres with a high bid of $46.6 million.

Provisional preferred applicants were identified for the two parcels auctioned outside the solar energy zone. Boulevard Associates, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, placed the high bid of $21 million for rights to submit a solar energy development proposal for a 10,129-acre parcel (Parcel 1) and Silver Star Solar I, LLC, a subsidiary of Leeward Renewable Energy, placed the high bid of $2.3 million to submit a solar energy development proposal on a 6,320-acre parcel (Parcel 2). Successful bidders for these parcels outside designated solar energy zones must also submit a right-of-way application within 30 days of the auction and a Plan of Development within 60 days. The BLM will then conduct project-specific reviews to verify compatibility with existing laws and policies before approving further project development.

President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is growing the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good paying jobs and building a clean energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.

The BLM is currently processing 74 utility-scale onshore clean energy projects proposed on public lands in the western United States. This includes solar, wind and geothermal projects, as well as interconnected gen-tie lines that are vital to clean energy projects proposed on non-federal land. These projects have the combined potential to add over 37,000 megawatts of renewable energy to the western electric grid. The BLM is also undertaking the preliminary review of over 150 applications for solar and wind development, as well as 51 applications for wind and solar energy testing.

The BLM manages vast stretches of public lands that are making significant contributions to the nation’s renewable energy portfolio. To promote the development of these energy sources, the BLM provides sites for environmentally sound development of renewable energy on public lands. The efficient permitting of renewable energy and transmission from our nation’s public lands is crucial in achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, as well as Congress’ direction in the Energy Act of 2020 to permit 25 gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025.

More information about the auction can be found at BLM’s website. 

Originally published by the US DOI.

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