BLM Lease Sale Aims to Expand Geothermal Power in New Mexico
As part of an effort to increase renewable energy, the Bureau of Land Management will be hosting a virtual geothermal lease sale this fall for three plots totaling nearly 4,000 acres. These plots are located in Hidalgo and Sierra counties in southwestern New Mexico.
It comes after President Joe Biden issued an executive order to increase renewable and clean energy sources. Additionally, the Energy Law of 2020 ordered the BLM to allow 25 gigawatts of solar, wind and geothermal power on public lands no later than 2025.
According to the BLM, as of May, there were 36 wind projects and 37 solar projects on federal lands across the United States. There are also nearly 50 geothermal projects. These wind, solar and geothermal projects produce more than 12 gigawatts of renewable energy.
New Mexico is one of seven states that, as of 2020, had geothermal power generation, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
New Mexico’s existing geothermal projects on BLM lands include the Lightning Dock geothermal resource area in Hidalgo County, which provides electricity to the New Mexico utility company. This geothermal project was the subject of a Projector New Mexico story in 2019. Projector interviewed residents of Hidalgo County who were concerned about the geothermal project impacting water quality.
While leasing will give companies the right to develop the resource, further environmental reviews must take place before projects can become reality. This includes reviews during the drilling license application process.
The new lease sale, which opens at 8 a.m. on November 18, could contribute to the economic development of the state and counties of Hidalgo and Sierra.
According to BLM’s press release announcing the sale, 50 percent of the lease funds will go to the state and 25 percent will go to the county. The remaining 25 percent goes to the US Department of the Treasury.
Rental sales will take place online at energynet.com.
More information is available by contacting Lauren Leib, BLM Land Law Examiner, at 505-954-2234 or [email protected]