The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has published in the Federal Register an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to give the public background information about the BLM's interest in establishing an efficient, competitive process for issuing right-of-way (ROW) leases for wind energy and solar power development on U.S. public lands.
According to the BLM, such a process would help ensure fair access to leasing opportunities for renewable energy development and capture fair market value for the use of public lands, as required under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976.
Existing regulations limit the competitive process for responding to overlapping right-of-way applications, the BLM explains, and the agency is seeking input on how best to offer public lands through a nomination and competitive process, instead of just by right-of-way application.
The BLM intends to evaluate ways to establish competitive bidding procedures for lands within designated wind and solar energy development leasing areas, define qualifications for potential bidders, and structure the financial arrangements necessary for the process.
‘The renewable energy resources on America's public lands are enormous," says 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 the public lands.’
The BLM is particularly interested in receiving comments on the following questions:
- How should a competitive process be structured for leasing lands within designated solar and wind energy development leasing areas?
- 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?
- What competitive bidding procedures should the BLM adopt?
- What is the appropriate term for a competitive solar energy ROW lease?
- What is the appropriate term for a competitive wind energy ROW lease?
- Should nomination fees be established for the competitive process? If so, how should the fees be determined?
- How should the bidding process for competitive solar and wind energy ROW leases be structured to ensure receipt of fair market value?
- Should a standard performance bond be required for competitive solar and wind energy ROW leases, and how should the bond amount be determined?
- 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 wind and solar energy development. Because this discussion is specifically focused on the development of the competitive process, comments are not being requested regarding wind and solar energy environmental issues. The comment period closes on Feb. 27.