On November 17, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously supported the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (PLREDA) (H.R. 3326) as part of a 12 bill package. PLREDA would expedite the permitting process for wind, solar and geothermal energy development on federal lands. Additionally, the legislation would share 25 percent of revenues with counties that have renewable energy projects within their boundaries, with provisions to ensure that these royalties are supplemental to Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and not a replacement for PILT.
Counties strongly support renewable energy development, and counties with federal lands are often well suited for alternative energy development projects. However, due to public lands counties’ limited ability to collect property taxes, adequate revenue sharing is crucial for local governments to provide essential services.
Earlier this year, Supervisor Dawn Rowe of San Bernardino, Calif. testified on behalf of NACo in support of H.R. 3326 at a House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee hearing. Supervisor Rowe stated that “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 to offset the costs to communities of renewable energy development on federal lands.” She also stressed the importance of PLREDA’s streamlining of the federal permitting process under the National Environmental Policy Act.
On November 16, Sen. Daines (R-Mont.) introduced companion legislation (S. 3214) in the U.S. Senate. H.R. 3326 will now go to the U.S. House floor for consideration, NACo will keep members apprised of any updates.