BLM to hold solar lease sale in Southern Colorado despite transmission concerns

Mar 24, 2023

The Bureau of Land Management plans to conduct a competitive lease sale inside the De Tilla Gulch Solar Energy Zone, a 1064-acre landscape in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The lease sale, scheduled to take place in late April, will be the second time solar rights in the San Luis Valley have been auctioned in Colorado, the first occurring almost a decade ago and drawing no bids.

At 7,000 feet of elevation and over 300 days of sunshine per year, the San Luis Valley is considered to have some of the best solar potential in the country, but inadequate transmission capacity could inhibit the solar farm from providing power to municipalities. According to Mike Kruger, president and CEO of Denver-based Colorado Solar & Storage Association, the San Luis Valley is “completely isolated and walled off from the rest of the country,” making it difficult to transmit power from the zone to market.

There are 19 total solar energy zones (SEZs) across the West, most of which were designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2012 as part of its Western Solar Plan to drive large-scale solar development to six Western states—where solar resources are high. Only a handful of the 19 zones have been leased, and the De Tilla Gulch would be the first SEZ lease sale in Colorado.

President Joe Biden has made renewable energy development a top priority—last year, he set a goal of approving 25,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects on federal lands by 2025. The De Tilla Gulch, the smallest of the 19 SEZs, is estimated to produce around 95-170 megawatts.

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Quote of the day

”Whenever man tries to control nature, man loses and nature is damaged.”

—Mervin Wright, executive director of Pyramid Lake Fisheries, Nevada Current

Picture this

Wet, red rock reflect the sunlight with rolling hills and mountains in the distance

Rain-soaked after a storm, Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area glistens a vibrant red, earning its namesake. Located just outside of Las Vegas, the area offers visitors unique sandstone escarpments, thickets of Joshua trees and the beloved desert tortoise.

Photo by Cheryl Hobbs

(featured image: Solar farm in Colorado | pxhere)