The Dept. of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 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 GW 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 Sec. Deb Haaland.
“This auction is an important next step toward 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 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, a wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, 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, 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.
News item from BLM