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EGEB: Trump administration hits solar, wind with retroactive rent bills

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • The Trump administration has ended a rent holiday for solar and wind projects on federal lands.
  • EY’s latest study predicts a strong recovery for the renewables sector from coronavirus.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says he’d kill the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Trump: The rent is now due

The Trump administration has ended a two-year rent holiday for solar and wind projects operating on federal lands, according to Reuters. The timing is, frankly, terrible: This is is a punch in the gut to an industry that is suffering at the hand of the pandemic, like most other sectors.

There are around 96 utility-scale solar, wind, and geothermal projects that operate on lands run by the US Bureau of Land Management.

Reuters continues:

US power plant owner Avangrid Inc, majority owned by Spain’s Iberdrola, received a bill for more than $3 million for two years of rent on its 131-megawatt Tule wind project on federal land near San Diego, according to spokesman Paul Copleman.

Officials at two other renewable projects also confirmed they had received retroactive rent bills from the federal government but asked not to be named discussing the issue as the industry continues to lobby the government for support to weather the downturn.

A budget document on the Interior Department’s website shows it expects to collect $50 million in rent fees for wind and solar projects in 2020, up from $1.1 million in 2019 and $21.6 million in 2018.

Green energy has a bright future — EY

EY has published its annual “Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index,” which “ranks the top 40 countries in the world on the attractiveness of their renewable energy investment and deployment opportunities.” EY explains:

The rankings reflect our assessments of market attractiveness and global market trends. In this latest edition we see COVID-19 having a short to mid-term impact, but the long-term drivers for investment in renewables remain strong, making the sector a safer haven for investment.

There have been some interesting shifts in the Top 10. The US has unseated China from the No. 1 spot (presumably this was awarded before the above surprise rent hike happened), because “of a short-term extension to the [Congress’ Production Tax Credit] and long-term growth in offshore wind, with plans to invest $57 billion to install up to 30GW by 2030.” China dropped to No. 2 because of a drop in renewable growth due to a decrease in government subsidies. However, EY is still optimistic about renewables growth in China.

EY predicts that the sector will bounce back because of falling costs, supportive policies, the prospect of green stimulus plans, and the fast progress of the storage sector.

Benoit Laclau, EY global energy leader, said:

Stakeholders are looking to collaborate and invest in companies where climate change and sustainable development is embedded in their strategy. Energy leaders should take action to invest in renewables and related sustainable long-term projects, including energy efficiency, smart power networks and low-carbon transport infrastructure.

Joe Biden: I’ll kill Keystone XL

Joe Biden’s campaign said yesterday that if Biden won the presidency, he’d kill the Keystone XL pipeline project, an $8 billion oil sands pipeline that would cross the US-Canada border.

The Obama administration, in which Joe Biden was vice president, rejected the project, declaring it adversely affecting climate change. Donald Trump reversed the Obama administration’s decision in 2017.

In April, as Electrek reported, a US federal judge canceled a key permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, saying it failed to adequately consider effects on endangered species.


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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.