BLM’s solar energy auction marks progress after years of fossil fuel production

A solar array at Nevada’s Nellis Air Force Base.

Credit: theregeneration, flickr.

Land for solar energy development was auctioned off by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Nevada on June 30, a historic first.

The BLM auctioned a total of 3,000 acres in Nevada’s Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone to three companies, marking the agency’s first successful auction of solar energy development on public lands.  Potential solar development from the auctioned land could produce up to 600 megawatts, enough energy to power up to 180,000 homes, all with an eye toward the White House’s goal of 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy development on public lands by 2020.

The auction is significant not only for this specific parcel’s clean energy potential, but because it indicates the tremendous progress our federal agencies have made over the past decade to find smart, responsible ways to develop clean energy on our public lands.

“Seeing the BLM–which has long auctioned fossil fuels–now auctioning off solar energy development on public lands is a great demonstration of our transition to a clean energy future,” said Alex Daue, assistant director for renewable energy at The Wilderness Society. “There is still work to be done to create a lasting legacy for responsible wind and solar energy development, but this week’s auction in Nevada shows how far we have come in the past decade.”

The BLM can keep the momentum going by focusing on development in other areas where sunlight is plentiful and there is limited danger of intruding on wildlife habitat or wilderness-quality land. These other “Solar Energy Zones,” 18 areas in six southwestern states plus future spots yet to be surveyed, are ripe for careful development.

 Dry Lake SEZ - Map

Learn more about the 18 Solar Energy Zones

Read about finding smart places for renewable energy development