The Biden administration unveiled a policy Tuesday evening making it cheaper for green energy developers to build and maintain projects on federal lands.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the federal government would reduce rents and fees charged for wind and solar projects on public lands during a roundtable Tuesday with U.S. and state officials in Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) expects the policy to reduce rents and fees by more than 50% when implemented.
“Clean energy projects on public lands have an important role to play in reducing our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and lowering costs for families,” Haaland said in a statement.
“The Bureau of Land Management continues to take bold steps to attract renewable energy investments on public lands in a way that is environmentally sound,” BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning added. “This will help support our clean energy economy by creating good paying jobs, increasing our energy security, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior (DOI) reduced land available for oil and gas leasing by 80% and increased royalty rates for leases by 50% in April. The average price of gasoline nationwide surged to $4.67 a gallon Wednesday, an all-time record, AAA data showed.
The bipartisan Energy Act of 2020 authorized the BLM to alter rents and fees for green energy to promote solar and wind development, the DOI said. The legislation also required the DOI to permit at least 25 gigawatts (GW) of wind, solar and geothermal project capacity by 2025.
“The new rate reduction policy for solar and wind, as well as the BLM’s prioritization of applications, will incentivize industry to partner in responsible solar and wind development,” the DOI said.
The federal government approved 12 renewable energy projects on federal lands with a total capacity of 2.9 GW in 2021, Reuters reported. The DOI projected it would collect more than $4.6 billion in rents and royalty fees from renewable energy projects in 2022, according to its proposed fiscal year 2023 budget.
In addition, Haaland said the BLM would establish five Renewable Energy Coordination Offices throughout the west to handle the increased number of applications for solar and wind projects on federal lands.
“Nevada’s public lands contain some of our nation’s best wind, geothermal, and solar opportunities and by carefully locating these developments, we can invest in local economies by creating new jobs and infrastructure while combating the climate crisis,” Paul Selberg, the executive director of the Nevada Conservation League, said in a statement applauding DOI’s policy change Wednesday.