Biden Administration to Cut Costs of Wind and Solar Projects - The New York Times

Biden Administration to Cut Costs of Wind and Solar Projects – The New York Times

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

“Clean energy projects on public lands have an important role in reducing our country’s greenhouse gas emissions and lowering costs for families,” Home Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.

Wind and solar developers have long said rental rates and project fees on federal lands have been too high to attract investors. Administration officials said the new policy would cut those costs by about 50 percent.

Representative Mike Levine, D-Calif., who sponsored legislation to accelerate renewable energy development, praised the move. “As Americans continue to grapple with the worsening effects of the climate crisis and rising energy bills, it is critical that we strengthen our independence in clean energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy costs,” he said in a statement.

Ms. Haaland announced this during a trip to Las Vegas, where she hosted a roundtable on renewable energy with business groups. The Federal Bureau of Land Management also announced that it will enhance its ability to handle an increasing number of applications by wind, solar and geothermal developers by establishing five new offices across the West to review proposed projects.

The decision comes as the Biden administration is also seeking to increase its concession fees for oil and gas companies to explore in federal lands and in federal waters. Last month, the administration canceled three oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, leading Republican lawmakers to criticize new renewable energy policies as harmful to energy-producing nations.

“This is Biden’s energy policy: wind, solar, and wishful thinking,” Republican Senator John F. Kennedy of Louisiana said Wednesday on the Senate floor. It is unrealistic, among other things, that is detrimental to our country. It hurts my people in Louisiana very badly.”

President Biden has pledged to nearly halve the greenhouse gases the United States generates by 2030. Legislation to achieve this has been frozen on Capitol Hill.

As a result, the administration is focusing on limited implementation actions that can spur clean energy and reduce the use of oil, gas and coal — the burning of which produces carbon dioxide and other gases that are dangerously heating the planet.

Last year, for example, the administration gave the green light to 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 Home Office said it was on track to approve 48 wind, solar and geothermal projects with an estimated production capacity of 31,827 megawatts of electricity, enough to power nearly 9.5 million homes, by the end of the year. The fiscal budget cycle for the year 2025.

The reduction in fees and rental rates comes at a difficult time for the solar industry. A Commerce Department investigation into whether Chinese companies circumvented US tariffs by moving solar panel components across four Southeast Asian countries has disrupted hundreds of new solar projects across the country.

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