With pressure form clean power industry lobbyists Washington has decided to review the federal land policy for renewable power projects. The clean power industry has argued that lease rates and fees are two high to draw investment. Their argument aligns with the President Biden’s climate change agenda and his administration has decided to make federal lands cheaper to access for solar and wind power developers.
Problems with the existing federal land policy for renewable power projects?
The federal land policy for renewable power projects was designed to keep rental rates and fees for federal solar and wind leases on par with agricultural land values in surrounding areas. This policy as it stands is out of synch with private land rents, as the renewable energy industry argues. Private land rents can be below $100 per acre with no fees attached, while some federal solar projects pay $971 per acre plus annual fees of over $2,000. This illustrates a sizable difference in rent between federal and private land.
Another issue the U.S. is currently facing is the scarcity of unbroken private land to house large-scale renewable energy projects. Historically, renewable projects have depended on private land to site them. This would make federal lands an ideal option for future expansion if it weren’t for their cost.
Changes to be made
Senior counselor to the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals, Janea Scott, has stated that the department does recognize that times have changed and updates to the current federal land policy for renewable power projects need to be made. In late August, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management announced a plan to revise regulations related to permitting and rights of way related to renewable energy on public lands. This plan includes listing sessions and a consultation with Native American tribes.
The department is looking to create easier access to a multitude of available federal lands ideal for renewable energy projects. Easier access means a reconsideration of current rent lease schedules and fees for wind and solar projects. Easier access to land and lower costs could also bring new jobs and economic benefits to the U.S.
Interested in learning more about the federal land policy for renewable power projects?
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