US land bureau to auction Colorado solar sites

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The US government’s land agency, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), will hold its first competitive auction of public land for solar development today.

BLM’s Colorado office will auction off three parcels of land totalling 3,705 acres in two ‘solar energy zones’ in Conejos and Saguache counties in the south of the state. SEZs are areas of public land in the US designated by the government for development of PV arrays.

If fully developed the two SEZs in today’s auction, De Tilla Gulch and Los Mogotes East, could support up to 400MW of new solar capacity, BLM said.

“These Solar Energy Zones (SEZs) are part of our effort to make sure that we’re developing clean energy in the right places and in the right ways,” said BLM’s principal deputy director Neil Kornze.

“[Today’s] competitive auction is an important milestone as we seek to accelerate the development of clean energy on our public lands that hold enormous potential for the solar power and for generating jobs and revenue for local communities.”

Successful bidders in the auction will be invited to submit detailed project proposals, which will subject to environmental impact scrutiny.

The US department of the Interior has created 19 SEZs in the western solar plan aimed at stimulating solar development in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

The zones are in areas with access to planned or existing transmission lines and where impact on biological, cultural and historic resources are expected to be minimal.

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