Feds seek proposals for 29,000 acres in southern New Mexico for solar power, grow industry
ublic land in southern New Mexico was offered for developing solar power by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as part of a multi-state initiative intended to build utility-scale installations in the American West.
In total, the BLM called for proposals for such developments on 90,000 acres of federal public land in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada – touting the call as the largest solar energy solicitation in the agency’s history.
The solicitation was in response to a 2012 initiative from the BLM that identified 17 solar energy zones (SEZs) in western states and deemed about 870,000 acres of public land was “environmentally preferable” for solar energy, per a news release.
Those lands included the Afton SEZ, about 29,664 acres in southern New Mexico in Doña Ana County, administered by the BLM’s Las Cruces District.
Other SEZs in the offering included three SEVs in Colorado for a total of 13,426 acres, along with three SEZs in Nevada on 46,199 total acres.
There were no pending solar applications in the area, and the BLM’s call would seek interest from companies, Tribal groups and other entities seeking to build solar power facilities in the area.
BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said the project announced Dec. 20 was intended to expand solar power production in the U.S. and follow the priorities of the federal administration to combat pollution through renewable energy.
“Scaling-up support for responsible renewable energy production is one of the BLM’s top priorities as we work across the Department of the Interior to lead the way in creating a clean energy economy in the United States,” Stone-Manning said.
“Today’s request for interest in these solar energy zones is an opportunity to expand the opportunities for the industry as we work to do our part to meet America’s energy needs.”