~~~ Bureau of Land Management Cedar City Field Office hosted a public meeting at the Minersville School, located at 450 S. 200 W. in Minersville, UT on Thursday, May 3 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., Mountain Time. ~~~
An Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared to disclose and analyze the environmental consequences of competitively leasing four parcels of public land within the Milford Flats South Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) for solar energy development. The area covered by parcels B and C has been nominated for leasing; the other two parcels would be leased on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) own initiative. The Milford Flats South SEZ is located in Beaver County, Utah approximately five miles west of the town of Minersville, Utah. The proposed leasing areas are shown on a map located in the documents section as well as the Draft EA. The legal descriptions of the proposed leasing areas are contained in Appendix A of the EA.
The BLM previously designated the Milford Flats South SEZ in the Approved Resource Management Plan Amendment/Record of Decision for Solar Development in Six Southwestern States (Solar PEIS ROD) signed on October 12, 2012. The BLM subsequently implemented regulations in January of 2017 for the competitive leasing of public lands for solar and wind development within Designated Leasing Areas (DLAs). The Milford Flats South SEZ is considered a DLA in accordance with the competitive leasing regulations found in 43 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 2809.
At the time of this review, it is not known whether any or all nominated parcels will receive bids, if leases will be issued, or if solar energy development infrastructure will be constructed, therefore a reasonably foreseeable development scenario is assumed to analyze the potential effects. If any of the parcels are leased, the lessee would be required to submit a Plan of Development (POD) specifying their development plans. If those development plans substantially differ from the reasonably foreseeable development scenario analyzed in this EA, then an additional, more detailed project specific analysis would occur when the POD was submitted.
Developing solar energy resources on public land in a DLA involves four phases: 1) leasing; 2) site characterization, siting and design, and construction; 3) operations and maintenance; and 4) reclamation and decommissioning. The first phase is to issue a lease. Leasing of lands for solar energy development confers an implied right to the lessee to develop the lands for solar energy production. The act of leasing does not directly result in surface disturbance activities; however ground disturbance would occur during the site characterization, siting and design, construction, and operations and maintenance phases. Reclamation and decommissioning would involve removing facilities and reclaiming the site as near as possible to its original condition.
It is assumed that future development would be for solar energy generation utilizing photovoltaic (PV) technology. If a future lessee submits a POD for any technology other than PV, further analysis of the project specific effects would likely be required.
The proposed action is to lease four parcels of public lands within the Milford Flats South SEZ for development of commercial scale (>20 megawatts (MW)) solar energy production, under the competitive leasing regulations for solar and wind. The four parcels of public lands comprise approximately 5,564 acres. The area covered by parcels B and C was nominated for competitive leasing in December of 2017. The remainder of the parcels are being considered for competitive leasing on BLM’s own initiative. No leases would be offered in greater sage-grouse PHMA or GHMA, consistent with the existing land use plan, as amended.