Interior Department Presents Hurdle to Generating Renewable Energy on Bases
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is insisting it should be a partner in any deals the military makes with the private sector to generate renewable energy on land BLM manages.
The dispute already has slowed a deal the Air Force is negotiating with Fotowatio Renewable Ventures to lease 3,228 acres at Edwards AFB, Calif., for a 450-megawatt solar project, reports Federal Times. An Army plan to lease more than 13,000 acres at Fort Irwin, Calif., to the Clark Energy Group for a 500-megawatt solar project also will require BLM approval.
BLM, which owns more than half the land at domestic military installations, believes that land not needed for military purposes is supposed to be returned to the agency, according to the story. But BLM is willing to collaborate with the military on deals with the private sector to produce renewable energy and split the proceeds.
Withdrawn lands, which are managed as part of the public domain by BLM, are tracts that have been withdrawn from the operation of public land laws for military use. A study released in January found that resolving the disagreement among DOD, the services and BLM over which agency has the authority to manage renewable energy development on withdrawn lands is critical if the Pentagon is to successfully develop utility-scale solar energy projects on its installations.
So far, DOD and BLM have formed a working group to address the dispute.