Biden administration to cut costs for wind and solar power projects

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration said Wednesday it would halve the amount it charges companies to build wind and solar projects on federal lands, a move aimed at encouraging renewable energy development.

“Clean energy projects on public lands have an important role to play in reducing our country’s greenhouse gas emissions and reducing costs for families,” said Deb Haaland, Secretary of the ‘Interior, in a press release.

Wind and solar developers have long said rental rates and fees for projects on federal lands were too high to attract investors. The new policy would cut those costs by about 50%, administration officials said.

Rep. Mike Levin, Democrat of California, who has sponsored legislation to accelerate renewable energy development, applauded the move. “As Americans continue to deal with the worsening effects of the climate crisis and rising energy bills, it is paramount that we build our own energy independence to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs,” he said in a statement.

Ms. Haaland made the announcement during a trip to Las Vegas, where she hosted a renewable energy roundtable with business groups. The Federal Office of Land Management also announced that it will strengthen its ability to handle a growing number of applications from wind, solar and geothermal developers by creating five new offices in the West to review proposed projects.

The decision comes as the Biden administration also seeks to increase the royalties it charges oil and gas companies to drill on federal lands and in federal waters. Last month, the administration canceled three sales of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, prompting Republican lawmakers to criticize new renewable energy policies as harmful to states. energy producers.

“Here’s Biden’s energy policy: wind, solar and wishful thinking,” Sen. John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, said in the Senate on Wednesday. “It’s just not realistic and, among other things, it hurts our country. This desperately hurts my people in Louisiana.

President Biden has pledged to roughly halve the greenhouse gases generated by the United States by 2030. Legislation to achieve this is frozen on Capitol Hill.

As a result, the administration is focusing on more limited executive actions that could boost clean energy and reduce the use of oil, gas and coal — the burning of which produces carbon dioxide and other gases that heat up. the planet dangerously.

Last year, for example, the administration greenlighted two large solar projects on federal lands in California that it said would generate about 1,000 megawatts, enough electricity to power about 132,000 homes.

In a report to Congress in April, the Department of the Interior said it was on track to approve 48 wind, solar and geothermal power projects with the capacity to generate about 31,827 megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 9.5 million homes, by the end of the fiscal year 2025 budget cycle.

The reduction in fees and rental rates comes at a difficult time for the solar industry. A Commerce Department probe into whether Chinese companies are circumventing U.S. tariffs by moving solar panel components to four Southeast Asian countries has blocked hundreds of new solar projects across the country.

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