Courtesy of the US Dept of the Interior.
Las Vegas, Nevada — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited Nevada [yesterday], where she announced significant policy and organizational updates to advance clean energy production on public lands and meet the Biden–Harris administration’s goal of a net-zero economy by 2050.
In Las Vegas, Secretary Haaland, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, and Congressman Steven Horsford hosted a clean energy roundtable with industry leaders, stakeholders and community members to discuss ongoing efforts to permit at least 25,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public land by 2025. During the roundtable, Secretary Haaland announced that the Department will begin implementation of a new policy to reduce rents and fees charged for wind and solar projects on public lands and is establishing Renewable Energy Coordination Offices in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices throughout the west.
“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,” said Secretary Haaland. “As we seek to advance President Biden’s clean energy goals, the Department of the Interior is continuing to meet the moment in coordination with local, state and elected officials, Tribes, and conservation and industry groups to help ensure we modernize America’s power infrastructure while creating jobs and bolstering climate resilience.”
“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,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “This will help support our clean energy economy by creating good paying jobs, increasing our energy security, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Through both of these efforts, renewable energy development on BLM-managed public lands will continue to grow and support the nation’s energy needs and help build a clean energy future. In a recent report to Congress, the BLM identified that the number of megawatts supported in fiscal year 2021 exceeded fiscal year 2020 by 35 percent. The BLM’s renewable energy accomplishments for fiscal year 2022 are on track to exceed 2021.
New Rate Reduction Policy
The Energy Act of 2020 provided authority for the BLM to reduce rents and fees if necessary to promote the greatest use of wind and solar resources. 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 new policy will reduce rents and fees substantially and enhance rate predictability for wind and solar developers. On average, the BLM expects rents and fees to decrease by over 50 percent due to lower acreage rents and a standard megawatt fee that promotes more efficient wind and solar or hybrid projects on public lands.
Today’s announcement comes after the BLM held several listening sessions and released a draft rate reduction policy for public review and comment in 2021. These efforts helped the bureau gain valuable feedback from the public on how it might best promote wind and solar energy development on public lands.
Renewable Energy Coordination Offices
Recognizing the significant momentum around building a clean energy economy, the BLM is building new internal capacity to process the increasing number of applications by wind, solar and geothermal developers through the creation of five Renewable Energy Coordination Offices.
The BLM is actively partnering with key federal agencies to fund dedicated positions to prioritize robust environmental compliance coordination for renewable energy proposals. The coordination offices include a national office at the BLM’s headquarters, within state offices in Arizona, California and Nevada; and a regional office led by BLM Utah. The BLM is also actively hiring project managers in other states, such as Idaho and Colorado, to support renewable permitting work in those states.
The Renewable Energy Coordination Offices will also facilitate increased engagement between Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Energy and Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Featured photo from America’s Public Lands Explained, DOI.
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