US proposes to formalize deep royalty reductions for wind and solar on federal lands

(Reuters) – New regulations will formalize a reduction of about 80% in project fees for wind and solar energy developments on federal lands under a proposal by the Biden administration on Thursday as part of a a strategy to boost renewable energy to combat climate change.

Last year, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the Department of the Interior cut rental fees and rental rates for solar and wind energy by about 50%, using the authority of the department, after developers complained that they were too high to attract investment.

Thursday’s Home Office proposal would deepen those fee reductions and enshrine the changes in formal regulation – making them harder to reverse under a future political administration.

President Joe Biden wants to decarbonize the US electric sector by 2035, a goal that will require the rapid deployment of large amounts of wind and solar power. The BLM manages 10 acres of land in the United States and the interior has a mandate from Congress to allow 25 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy on federal lands by 2025.

In a statement, Interior said BLM’s proposed rule would reduce project fees by about 80% and allow the agency to accept rental applications in priority areas for wind and solar development outside of auctions. competitive.

The agency is also considering additional fee reductions for projects using American-made equipment or built with union labor. These proposals are in line with Biden’s pledge that fighting climate change can revitalize American industry and create well-paying union jobs.

BLM will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days and aims to finalize a rule next year.

The agency is currently processing 74 applications for solar, wind, geothermal and transmission lines related to clean energy development. Together they have the potential to add over 37 GW of renewable energy to the grid.

“Our public lands play a critical role in the clean energy transition,” BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement.

BLM is also in the process of identifying new areas for solar development in the western United States.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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