BLM Tries to Accommodate Increase in Renewable Energy Applications

The Bureau of Land Management announced the official opening of its Renewable Energy Coordination office in Palm Springs yesterday, the Triple Pundit reported

The Department of the Interior directed the BLM to open these offices or RECOs, in order to help expedite processing of the increased number of applications for renewable energy projects and associated transmission facilities on lands management by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

This could be good news for California which holds some of the most viable federal land for solar projects in the country. The Mojave Desert’s omnipresent sunshine, cheap land and proximity to several large metropolitan areas makes it a potentially attractive area for solar investment but issues with energy transmission remain.

Although a few companies have already staked a claim and begun construction, including Oakland based BrightSource, getting the energy from point A to B can involve going through private lands and environmentally sensitive areas. In addition, once a proposed transmission line is cleared it can still take a decade to build.

It will be interesting to see how the BLM mitigates these issues considering they might be working under the guise of the interagency committee proposed by the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative. According to its website,

RETI will assess all competitive renewable energy zones in California and possibly also in neighboring states that can provide significant electricity to California consumers by the year 2020. RETI also will identify those zones that can be developed in the most cost effective and environmentally benign manner and will prepare detailed transmission plans for those zones identified for development.

Will the two be able to coexist in the desert and expedite the conversion to renewable energy or will they only serve to entangle the issue in bureaucracy?


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