The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), which manages over 245 million acres, recently published in the Federal Register an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to give the public background information about the BLM’s interest in establishing an efficient, competitive process for issuing right-of-way (ROW) leases for solar and wind energy development on public lands. BLM believes the existing regulations limit the competitive process to procedures for responding to overlapping right-of-way applications. The BLM is seeking input on how best to offer public lands through a nomination and competitive process instead of just by right-of-way application.

Some of the questions BLM would like addressed in comments are: 

  • How should a competitive process be structured for leasing lands within designated solar and wind energy development leasing areas?
  • Should a competitive leasing process be implemented for public lands outside of designated solar and wind energy development leasing areas? If so, how should such a competitive leasing process be structured?
  • What competitive bidding procedures should the BLM adopt?
  • What is the appropriate term for a competitive solar energy ROW lease?
  • What is the appropriate term for a competitive wind energy ROW lease?
  • How should the bidding process for competitive solar and wind energy ROW leases be structured to ensure receipt of fair market value?
  • Should a standard performance bond be required for competitive solar and wind energy ROW leases and how should the bond amount be determined?  

Because this discussion is specifically focused on the development of the competitive process, comments are not being requested regarding solar and wind energy environmental issues. Comments are due by February 27, 2012.