The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), part of the Department of Interior, has advanced on 15 clean energy projects across the West, with two solar PV and storage plants operational in California.
Among the 15 renewables projects, progress has been made on environmental reviews for seven solar plants in Nevada, a solar and storage project in Arizona as well as permitting milestones for transmission line upgrades in Arizona, Nevada and Utah.
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One of the two projects that reached operational status in California is the 500MW Oberon solar, from developer Intersect Power, which includes 250MW of battery storage output. The developer secured construction approval for the project in July 2022 from the BLM, and shortly after that closed US$3.1 billion in project financing for a portfolio of 2.2GW near-term projects, of which Oberon solar was a part of it.
The other project that is fully operational, Arlington Solar Energy Center, is also located in Riverside County. It has 364MW of solar capacity and 242MW of battery energy storage and was developed by NextEra Energy, which brought online another solar-plus-storage power plant nearby last year with 485MW solar capacity.
Moreover, seven solar projects with a combined generation capacity of up to 5.3GW in the state of Nevada, have had published a Notice of Intent to Amend the Resource Management Plan and prepared an associated Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Esmeralda Solar Projects.
In Arizona, the BLM started an environmental analysis of a 700MW solar and battery energy storage system project, dubbed Ranegras Plains Energy Center Project, which is wholly owned by solar developer Savion.
Tracy Stone-Manning, director at BLM, said: “Investing in clean and reliable renewable energy represents the BLM’s commitment to addressing climate change and supports direction from the President and Congress to permit 25 gigawatts of solar, wind and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025.”
One of the transmission line projects that is expected to receive construction approval is a 500-kilovolt gen-tie transmission line west of Phoenix, in the state of Arizona and once completed will support the integration of a 150MW utility-scale solar project, Harquahala Sun, into the grid.
Furthermore, BLM is currently processing 66 utility-scale projects on public lands on the western coast of the US, which has the potential to add a combined 33GW of solar, wind and geothermal capacity.