Federal Utilization Application Process (7-FD-a)
There are four components (permits) required for geothermal plant development: (IM-NV-2010-066-A3)
- Utilization plan - the plan that describes the methods for developing the on lease resource (may include surface facilities and addition wells, and production and sales metering)
- Facility construction permit (43 CFR 3272)- Permit issued by BLM to begin construction of the production facilities and associated infrastructure.
- Site license (43 CFR 3273) - Only required on federal lease or on split estate where BLM is the surface management agency. However, before testing a utilization facility not located on Federals lands a Sundry Notice describing the testing schedule and quantity of Federal geothermal resources expected to be delivered to the facility during testing.
- Commercial use permit (43 CFR 3274)- required prior to commercial geothermal production
Utilization Application Process Process
7-FD-a.1 - Utilization Plan (UP), Operation Plan (OP), Draft Facility Construction Permit (FCP), Submitted to BLM
A Utilization plan is required for construction and operation of electrical generation facilities, direct-use steam plants, and related facility and well field operations, including well field production and injection. Site license or lease and construction permit are required before beginning site preparation work for facilities. Note that a separate site license is required if the operator is not a party to the lease.
Recommended Project Documentation Submittals for Utilization Plan and Construction Permit
Provide the following information, per 43 CFR 3272.11:
- A signed Sundry Notice (Construction Permit) requesting authorization to commence construction of a utilization facility.
- Description of all proposed structure and facilities, their size, location and function, including acreage of disturbance associated with each facility. Include a table summarizing the disturbance type, dimensions of disturbance and total proposed acres of disturbance.
- Describe facility operations including estimated total injection and production rates, estimated well flow rates, pressures and temperatures; facility net and gross electrical generation; and if applicable interconnection with other utilization facilities (multiple plants);
- Maps ; hard and electronic contour maps that include: production and injection well pads, pipeline routes, facility locations, locations of laydowns and staging areas, drainage structures and culverts, existing and planned access roads, overland travel routes (Gold Book road construction standards), meridian, township, range and section (MTRS), scale, legend, land status, and lease boundaries.
- Description of site preparation and associated surface disturbance including the source for site for road building materials, amounts of cut and fill, drainage structures and culvert placement and design, analysis of all evaluation studies given for the site (hydrologic studies, geotechnical studies, meteorological studies, etc.) for the site, and a description for any additional tests, studies, or surveys which are planned to assess the geological suitability of the site.
- The source, quality and proposed consumption rate of water to be used during facility operations and the source and quality of water to be used during facility of construction
- The methods for meeting air quality standards during facility construction and operations especially standards concerning non-condensable gases.
- An estimated number of personnel needed during construction and operation of facility
- A construction schedule.
- A schedule for testing of the facility and or well equipment, and for the start of commercial operations
- A description of measures that will be used to minimize visual impacts.
Environmental Protection Measures that Must Be Included in Plan (43 CFR 3272.12)
(a) Describe, at a minimum, your proposed measures to:
- Prevent or control fires;
- Prevent soil erosion;
- Protect surface or ground water;
- Protect fish and wildlife;
- Protect cultural, visual, and other natural resources;
- Minimize air and noise pollution; and
- Minimize hazards to public health and safety during normal operations.
(b) If BLM requires it, you must also describe how you will monitor your facility operations to ensure that they comply with the requirements of § 3200.4, and applicable noise, air, and water quality standards, at all times. We will consult with other involved surface management agencies, if any, regarding monitoring requirements. You must also include provisions for monitoring other environmental parameters we may require.
(c) Based on what level of impacts that BLM finds your operations may cause, we may require you to collect data concerning existing air and water quality, noise, seismicity, subsidence, ecological systems, or other environmental information for up to 1 year before you begin operating. BLM must approve your data collection methodologies, and will consult with any other surface managing agencies involved.
(d) You must also describe how you will abandon utilization facilities and restore the site, in order to comply with the requirements of § 3200.4.
(e) Finally, you must submit any additional information or data that BLM may require.
Project Documentation Submittals for Site License
Provide the following information, per 43 CFR 3273.15:
- A description of the boundaries of the land applied for, as determined by a certified licensed surveyor. Lands described should include all Federal acreage necessary to utilize the geothermal resource. E.g.: utilization facility, substations, cooling towers, repair and storage facilities, etc.
- A description of the meridian, township, range and section (MTRS).
- The total acreage of the utilization facility.
- The filing fee for a site license application to be paid at the appropriate BLM District Office(found in the fee schedule which is located at 43 CRF 3000.12).
- A site license bond to Nevada State Office(see §3273.19);
- Documentation that the lessee or unit operator accepts the siting of utilization facility, if the facility operator is neither the lessee nor the unit operator.
7-FD-a.2 to 7-FD-a.4 - Review Application Materials for Completeness
When BLM receives the application materials, they are first reviewed for completeness. If anything is missing, the applicant is notified - the application will not be processed until all materials are received and complete.
7-FD-a.5 - Application Coordination Meeting
The application coordination meeting includes BLM field office staff, the developer, and consultant and can be combined with the on-site visit. If the on-site is scheduled with the application meeting it is recommended that the applicant have disturbance areas flagged.
7-FD-a.6 - Site Visit
An onsite inspection will be conducted with the operator to further identify site-specific resource protection concernsand requirements. Prior to, or in conjunction with, the onsite inspection, the surface management agency will advise the operator if any special inventories or studies are required, such as for cultural resources or threatened and endangered species.
7-FD-a.7 - NEPA Process
The NEPA Process is required before approving the Site License and Facility Construction Permit. Often the NEPA process is conducted for all stages of construction concurrently to save time.
7-FD-a.8 - Is the Power Plant itself on Federal Lands?
If the power plant will be constructed on Federal lands, four documents will need to be submitted for the Utilization Application, including the Utilization Plan (UP), Operation Plan (OP), draft Site License (SL), and draft Facility Construction Permit (FCP).
If the the project (e.g. well field) is on Federal Lands, but the power plant is not (e.g. neighboring state or private lands), a Utilization Plan is still required, but the application documents differ. In this case, only a Utilization Plan (UP) and Operation Plan (OP) are required for the application to be complete.
7-FD-a.9 - Draft Site License (SL)
Your site license application must include:
- (a) A description of the boundaries of the land applied for, as determined by a certified licensed surveyor. Describe the land by legal subdivision, section, township and range, or by approved protraction surveys, if applicable;
- (b) The affected acreage;
- (c) A non-refundable filing fee of $50;
- (d) A site license bond (see § 3273.19);
- (e) The first year’s rent, if applicable (see § 3273.18); and
- (f) Documentation that the lessee or unit operator accepts the siting of the facility, if the facility operator is neither the lessee nor the unit operator.
7-FD-a.10 - Bonding Document or Letter of Credit
The bonding requirements for a geothermal electrical generation facility are:
- The facility operator must submit a surety or personal bond to BLM for at least $100,000 that meets the requirements of subpart 3214 (BLM may increase the required bond amount, see subparts 3214 and 3215 for additional details on bonding procedures),
- The bond’s terms must cover compliance with the requirements of § 3200.4, and
- Do not start construction, testing, or any other activity that would disturb the surface until BLM as approved the bond.
7-FD-a.11 - Approved Site License (Federal Lands Only) & Facility Construction Permit
After the NEPA process has been successfully completed, BLM approves the Site License and Facility Construction Permit. The Developer can now proceed with plant construction, production testing and plant operation testing.
7-FD-a.12 - Plant Construction, Production Testing, and Plant Operations Testing
Facilities construction and production testing can begin with approval of all necessary permits and licenses.
Prior to submitting the complete Commercial Use Permit (CUP) package, it is recommended that the operator submit a general description of how metering will be conducted so that compliance with 43 CFR 3275 can be ensured.
7-FD-a.13 - Plant Commissioning
After the plant has been tested and is fully operational, the plant can be commissioned for production.
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- Instruction Memorandum: OP/NOI requiring EA Timeline (IM-NV-2010-066-A5)
- Instruction Memorandum: Timeline for OP and UP with power plant on private lands (IM-NV-2010-066-A6)
- Instruction Memorandum: Timeline for OP and UP with power plant on Federal lands (IM-NV-2010-066-A7)
- Form for Sundry Notice and Reports on Wells
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- Permit Types
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