WTAS: H.R. 3794, Renewable Energy on Public Lands

f t # e
Washington, July 25, 2019 | Ben Goldey | comments

Last week, a bipartisan coalition introduced H.R. 3794, the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act. As support continues to grow for this legislation, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a legislative hearing on the bill today.

Robert Lovingood, National Association of Counties: "While federal lands come with opportunities that contribute to our local economy, these opportunities also add pressure to local infrastructure and services, including roads, bridges, emergency search and rescue, and law enforcement. San Bernardino County must provide these critical services to 100 percent of our county, even though less than 20 percent of our county is taxable land that can support these services… San Bernardino County’s climate and landscape offers some of the highest solar and wind energy potential in the nation. PLREDA will help create good paying, local jobs in the renewable energy sector, diversify rural economies and spur economic growth. PLREDA creates a straight forward and streamlined permitting process tailored to the unique characteristics of renewable energy projects being developed on federal public lands… PLREDA offers a unique opportunity to expand renewable energy projects throughout the United States, while simultaneously promoting economic diversification in rural communities and striking a balance that equitably offsets the costs to communities of renewable energy development."

Abigail Ross Hopper, Solar Energy Industries Association: "H.R. 3794, the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act of 2019,  is a step in the right direction of expanding the role public lands play in the future of renewable energy... Currently the states and counties in which solar projects are built on BLM lands do not receive any funds from the federal government through payments in lieu of taxes or other means. This is especially important for rural counties, which often struggle due to reduced property tax revenue related to heavy federal presence… The bill provides certainty on rental rates and also allows Interior to reduce rental rates and capacity fees if the Secretary determine that the current rate is not competitively priced."

David Bobzien, Nevada Governor's Office of Energy: "To be clear, renewable energy development can have impacts on the habitats of a variety of species found in Nevada: bats, desert tortoise and sage-grouse to name a few. At the same time, scientists are already documenting the impacts of our region’s warming on species. It is important that tools needed by land managers to address and mitigate these impacts are maintained in order to achieve balance in the development of renewable energy. Elements of the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act do just that…Nevada also appreciates the coordination with state governments outlined in Section 4(f) [of H.R. 3794]. In particular, coordination with state energy offices such as mine will prove beneficial to this effort."

Chris Wood, Trout Unlimited: "H.R. 3794 will help to advance a balanced approach to developing wind, solar and geothermal projects on public lands… PLREDA will expand renewable development in a manner that minimizes impacts to and supports the outstanding cultural and economic benefits of hunting and fishing and recreation on our public lands… H.R. 3794 will allow us to develop energy resources, bolster local economies, diversify county revenue streams, improve hunting and fishing access and make public land fishing and hunting better than we found it."

Drew McConville, Wilderness Society: "H.R. 3794 makes a strong commitment to ensuring natural resource conservation is done in concert with building new infrastructure… This legislation will give permitting agencies additional resources and new tools to move forward with a smarter, more efficient way to permit renewable energy… H.R. 3794 promotes responsible development of renewable energy while simultaneously enhancing conservation investments on our public lands."

Roxane Perusso, Power Company of Wyoming: "We support H.R. 3794. The legislation addresses the misapplication of a competitive leasing regulation on projects, like ours, that were permitted prior to the issuance of this new regulatory framework. During the 12 years that we have been in the permitting and construction phases of our project development, we have been subject to various legislative and regulatory changes at both the federal and state levels that have injected uncertainty into the develop process and potentially impact the economic viability of the project. The Competitive Leasing Regulation was retroactively applied to our project and many other solar and wind projects, increasing our costs alone by up to $140 million."

Shannon Eddy, Large-Scale Solar Association: "This legislation establishes a more stable, fair, and well-resourced approach to developing large-scale solar energy facilities on federal lands. Reducing the delays and uncertainty associated with the current permitting process will drive higher investment in large-scale solar energy projects on public land…This bill contains many provisions that will drive stronger investment in large-scale solar energy projects resulting in greater job creation, more competitive electricity prices, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions…Enacting and implementing this bi-partisan bill would go a long way towards eliminating many of the hurdles that have made federally administered land less attractive to solar energy investment. The Large-Scale Solar Association and our members look forward to working with you and the other bill sponsors to enact this thoughtful, bipartisan legislation."

Additional background can be found HERE.

f t # e

Stay Connected

Use the form below to sign up for my newsletter and get the latest news and updates directly to your inbox.