Energy & Environment

Biden administration to ‘revise’ regulations for solar, wind on public lands

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The Biden administration on Tuesday announced that it would “revise” regulations pertaining to renewable energy on public lands — a move that could make conditions more favorable for wind and solar development. 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is part of the Interior Department, announced that it’s seeking input as it drafts proposed “updates” and plans to formally propose a new rule early next year. 

In particular, it’s asking for input on rent and fees for solar and wind, scenarios where reduced rents and fees are appropriate and potential extension beyond 30 years for solar and wind rights of way. 

notice published in the administration’s regulatory agenda cites part of an executive order that directs the Interior Department to identify steps that can be taken to increase renewable energy production on public lands. 

Reuters first reported that the department planned to make solar and wind development cheaper on federal lands. 

“We recognize the world has changed since the last time we looked at this and updates need to be made,” Janea Scott, senior counselor to Interior’s assistant secretary for land and minerals, told the wire service.

According to Reuters, solar projects can pay as much as $971 per acre in annual rent, in addition to $2,000 per megawatt of power, while wind generators can pay $3,800. 

Oil and gas, meanwhile, pay much less — $1.50 to $2 per acre in rent. Drilling royalties on public lands are typically about 12.5 percent.

The Biden administration has indicated support for expanding renewable energy as it seeks to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. 

It has also initiated a review of its current program for leasing lands for fossil fuel development, saying it wants to ensure that taxpayers are getting fair returns for leasing lands to these companies. 

–Updated at 11:30 a.m. 

Tags federal lands Renewable energy Solar power Wind power

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