Guidelines for legal and policy considerations associated with solar development on Reclamation land

Project ID: 3863
Principal Investigator: Mike Norris
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Funded Fiscal Years: 2013
Keywords: renewable energy policy

Research Question

To proceed with and accelerate solar development within Reclamation we need to identify and thoroughly understand the legal and policy considerations associated with such development. The purpose of this proposal is to create a set of guidelines that Reclamation managers, planners and stakeholders can use for their own solar energy-related grant and project proposals.

This proposal will address the following questions:
1. What are the legal and regulatory requirements for siting production-scale solar power generation projects on Reclamation lands?
2. Are there overlaps or conflicts between state and federal requirements for siting solar-power generation projects?
3. What are universal requirements, which apply to any solar-power project sited on Reclamation-managed lands?
4. What are some site-specific requirements, which vary depending on the individual project?

Many of the legal and policy implications of solar development on Federal land will apply to any Federal lands managed by Reclamation, so this project will produce results that are highly transferrable for use across the agency. Universal legal and regulatory considerations identified and discussed by this research will be applicable to all lands managed by Reclamation, while site specific legal and regulatory considerations will serve as examples of the types of conditions that Reclamation offices and stakeholders should explore with relevant agencies/parties.

Need and Benefit

The Federal Government has placed a priority on accelerating the development of renewable energy projects on Federal land. For example,

• Section 211 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 calls for 10,000 megawatts of non-hydro renewable energy on public land by 2015.
• The President's New Energy for America initiative sets forth the goal of ensuring that 25 percent of America's electricity will be from renewable energy sources by 2025.
• Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has made the development of renewable energy a Department priority (Secretarial Order 3285A1 "Renewable Energy Development", 2009)

Currently, Reclamation has no standard guidelines on legal and regulatory requirements for managers and stakeholders to apply when implementing solar-power generation projects. This means that each office or group must individually acquire this knowledge, increasing implementation time, and possibly impacting the chances of implementing solar power generation systems. This project will produce guidelines that should help reduce the time required for these projects, and increase the likelihood of successful implementation.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

1. A set of guidelines for Reclamation managers, planners and stakeholders that documents and discusses universal and site specific legal and regulatory considerations associated with potential solar development on Reclamation land managed by the YAO. The guidelines will be available both within Reclamation (via the Intranet) and to the public (via the Internet).
2. Presentations within and outside of Reclamation to parties with an interest in solar development on Reclamation land. The results of the research will also be shared with YAO customers (e.g., irrigation districts, tribes) to assist them in considering solar development either on Reclamation land or their own lands.

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Last Updated: 11/15/16