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Economic Benefits of Renewable Energy on Public Lands


Photograph of solar panels on grassland with two wind turbines in the background

As part of its commitment to support and inspire a clean energy transition, the Department of the Interior announced a series of steps in 2022 taken to advance the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to permit 25 gigawatts of renewable power on public lands by 2025 - a threefold increase in the projects approved up until that point, and enough to power over 10 million homes.


Strategically locating renewable energy development on public lands can have multiple benefits. It not only stimulates local economies and creates job opportunities across various skill levels, but also generates additional revenue for state and local governments. Moreover, these projects play a crucial role in combating climate change, while ensuring the preservation of our most delicate lands, wildlife habitats, and cultural resources. However, it is equally important to make significant investments in energy conservation, efficiency, rooftop solar, and other forms of distributed renewable energy generation to secure a sustainable and clean energy future.



Benefits for Local Communities


Job Creation

One major economic benefit of renewable energy on public lands is job creation. The development, construction, operation and maintenance of renewable energy projects require a diverse workforce, providing job opportunities for local communities. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, there are just over 8 million jobs in renewable energy today. Similarly, in 2021 and 2022, energy jobs grew faster than overall U.S. employment. From engineers and technicians to administrative and support staff, these projects create jobs across various skill levels, helping to diversify local economies. Additionally, many of these jobs are often in rural or economically depressed communities, which sustains and builds local economies.


Infrastructure Investments

The development of large renewable energy projects can prompt other infrastructure investments that provide additional benefits to local communities, such as roads and data communication infrastructure. In rural and economically depressed areas, these infrastructure investments  can provide much needed economic stimulus and support.



Benefits for State and Local Governments


Additional Revenue Streams

Renewable energy projects on public lands not only create jobs, but also generate additional revenue streams for state and local governments. Through leasing and royalty payments, monetizing public land through renewable energy resources can provide a reliable source of income for state and local governments. This additional revenue can be used to fund critical services such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure improvements.


Cost Savings

Investing in renewable energy on public lands also brings cost savings to state and local governments. By reducing reliance on fossil fuels, these projects can help lower energy costs and decrease the need for expensive infrastructure upgrades. This, in turn, frees up funds for other important investments, such as social services and education.


Improved Public Health

Fossil fuels cause air pollution and can contaminate water and soil. Energy from renewable sources reduces air pollution, making the air safer to breathe while addressing the threat of climate change.


Economy & Foreign Relations Stabilization

Sustainable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal resources, play a vital role in stabilizing the economy. By reducing uncertainty in future energy prices and guaranteeing a reliable energy supply for future generations, they provide a solid foundation for long-term prosperity. By fostering the growth of renewable energy sources, we simultaneously reduce our reliance on foreign oil. This not only bolsters our national security but also fosters positive foreign relations.


Climate Change Mitigation

Renewable energy development on public lands plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By transitioning towards clean energy sources, we can limit the effects of climate change and reduce our dependence on finite fossil fuel resources. Additionally, renewable energy projects can help offset emissions from sectors such as transportation and industry, further contributing to reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions.


Repower Brownfield Sites

To promote renewable energy development and alleviate the burden on undeveloped "greenfield" sites, federal agencies and Congress can play a crucial role by repurposing old mines, landfills, and other contaminated sites with solar, wind, and geothermal energy. The Environmental Protection Agency's RE-Powering America's Land initiative has already identified 43 million acres across the United States that hold immense potential for solar, wind, and geothermal projects. This approach not only fosters sustainability, but also ensures the efficient utilization of available resources.



What is being done to increase renewable energy development on public lands?


In summary, the development of renewable energy on public lands brings forth numerous economic benefits for local communities, state and local governments, and in combating the effects of climate change. The Bureau of Land Management has recently proposed an update to its renewable energy regulations, aiming to promote the development of solar and wind energy on public lands. The proposed Renewable Energy Rule seeks to reduce fees nationwide and facilitate development in priority areas, aligning with the goals of the Biden-Harris administration. These goals include permitting 25 gigawatts of clean energy on public lands by 2025 and transitioning to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035.


The proposed rule aims to enhance the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) capacity to accept leasing applications in priority areas for wind and solar development, streamlining the process without the need for a full auction. The Renewable Energy Rule, as proposed, allows the BLM to continue conducting competitive auctions where appropriate and in line with established practices, while also expanding its authority to accept non-competitive leasing applications in the public interest. This update seeks to facilitate development in these identified priority areas while ensuring fair compensation for the use of public lands, all while maintaining necessary flexibility.


Government agencies can utilize LandGate to assess the ren,ewable energy potential of their properties for free. They can also list public land for lease for renewable energy on LandGate's marketplace for exposure to trusted energy developers and investors at no cost.



Interested in learning more about how your government-owned properties can contribute to clean energy development? Schedule a call with a member of our team today to get started:



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