RAPID/Geothermal/New Mexico/Land Access

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New Mexico Geothermal Land & Geothermal Resource Access(3-NM)

In order to develop geothermal resources in New Mexico, a developer must obtain a lease and, any required right of way (ROW) easements or permits to encroach on or access existing state ROWs.

Geothermal Lease

To develop geothermal resources on New Mexico state trust lands or on “miscellaneous” state lands controlled by school districts or state agencies developers must have a valid state Geothermal Lease. Geothermal resources are defined by New Mexico’s Geothermal Resources Act and Geothermal Leasing Regulations as resources for which the temperature of the heat and/or water associated with the resource is greater than 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Geothermal Leases are obtained through an auction process from the New Mexico State Land Office (NMSLO). Prior to commencing any activities on the lease, the developer must apply to the Commissioner of Public Lands (the Commissioner) and receive approval which requires, among other requirements, submitting a surface protection bond and a surety to guarantee payment of royalties. 19.2.7 NMAC.

Business Lease

Developers must obtain a Business Lease from the NMSLO to develop geothermal projects on state trust lands or on miscellaneous state lands where the resource is 250 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Business Leases could be either bid or non-bid leases. Non-bid leases have maximum terms of five years, whereas bid leases may have longer terms. Bid leases require a more extensive lease sale process. 19.2.9 NMAC. If a developer seeks access to the land before entering into a Business Lease, the developer must obtain a Right of Entry Permit. NMAC.

Right of Way

Developers must obtain right of way (ROW) easements from the NMSLO for construction or other activities on or over state lands. Only upon issuance of a ROW easement may the developer begin construction within the area defined for the ROW based on the terms and conditions of the grant. 19-7-57 NMSA. Developers are required to survey the plan area prior to applying for ROW easements. NMAC. The developer must apply to the Commissioner for ROW easements which requires payment of fees and bonding. NMAC.

Temporary Access

Developers must obtain a Temporary Access Permit by submitting a NMSLO Right of Entry Request for access over trust lands not within the actual dimension of ROW easements. Temporary Access Permits allow the developer to complete the necessary assessments for obtaining a ROW easement. These permits allow access beyond ROWs for activities such as maintenance, repair, or improvement of the right of way easement. NMAC.

Highway Utility Accommodation and Highway Access

Developers must obtain approval from the NMLSO or the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) if project construction or activities will encroach on existing state ROWs. Developers must obtain a Public Highway Utility Accommodation Permit in order to construct, adjust or relocate any facilities for the carriage, transmission, or distribution of electric power within NMDOT ROWs. To obtain Accommodation Permits, developers must submit an NMDOT Application for Permit to Install Utility Facilities Within Public ROW. The permitting process is detailed and requires submittal of comprehensive plans, environmental and archaeological clearances, and proof of insurance. 17.4.2 NMAC.

Developers seeking to construct or modify any temporary or permanent vehicular access to or from any state highway must submit a NMDOT Application for Permit to Construct an Access or Median Opening on Public Right of Way. For approval, the developer must provide proof of ownership of the property with a platted survey and a traffic control plan. 18.31.6 NMAC.

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

New Mexico Federal

Leasing Agency: New Mexico State Land Office Bureau of Land Management
Competitive Land Leasing: Yes, New Mexico State Land Office issues geothermal leases through competitive auction.
Noncompetitive Land Leasing: No