BLM cuts costs for clean energy developers looking to build on public lands

BLM/Flickr

Arizona saw 1 project in 2021, but at least five more are in the pipeline, a federal report says

BY: JENIFFER SOLIS/NEVADA CURRENT 

The Biden administration says it will significantly reduce the amount it charges companies to build wind and solar projects on public land, a move meant to incentivize renewable energy development.

During a visit to Las Vegas on Wednesday following the announcement, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said the new policy would cut costs for developers by lowering acreage rents and fees by 50% for new and existing renewable energy projects on public lands.

“It will incentivize industry to partner in responsible solar and wind development and help encourage and inspire other companies to invest in the clean energy economy,” said Haaland.

The policy change comes after the Biden administration committed to permit at least 25,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public land by 2025 as part of the Energy Act of 2020.

Arizona had one such project permitted in 2021, a solar farm planned to generate 260 megawatts, according to a recent report by the Department of the Interior. But at least five more projects are in the pipeline, four solar , all in the southern half of the state, and one wind in the northwest near the Nevada border.

Neighboring Nevada, meanwhile, has more public land than nearly any other state – second only to Alaska – making Biden’s plan to increase renewable energy on public lands of key importance to the state.

Renewable energy development on Nevada’s public lands is quickly growing, according to the Interior Department. In fiscal year 2021, the Bureau of Land Management authorized 12 renewable energy projects on public lands, more than half of them in Nevada. The agency also said it’s on track to approve 48 wind, solar and geothermal energy projects by 2025, a majority of them in Nevada.

The planned energy projects have the capacity to produce an estimated 31,827 megawatts of electricity — enough to power more than 9 million homes — according to the report, meaning the Biden administration may even exceed its goal of permitting 25,000 MW of renewable energy projects by 2025.

Federal land managers said the policy change was crafted during several listening sessions. A draft of the policy was released for public review and comment in 2021 after BLM was granted the authority to reduce rents and fees for wind and solar projects.

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