Tester pushes $10 million for state offices to assist with renewable energy projects

Great Falls Tribune

The Senate Energy Committee has OK’d a plan by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., establishing new offices in western states designed to cut red tape on renewable energy projects.

Tester’s bill authorizes up to $10 million a year through 2019 to pay for the offices but the funding would be decided by Senate Appropriations Committee, on which Tester serves.

If signed into law, Tester’s plan would create a Renewable Energy Pilot Project Office in nine western states including Montana to help energy developers get federal permits for renewable energy projects and transmission lines. Additionalemployees would be hired to deal with the permits.

“The offices will help cut through all the red tape that slows down too many innovative projects,” Tester said.

Also included in the legislation is a provision requiring federal royalties from wind and solar power generated on federal land to be put into a special fund to help pay for the Renewable Energy Pilot Project Offices.

The offices would be housed in existing Bureau of Land Management facilities.

Tester’s legislation requires the U.S. energy and interior secretaries to decide which BLM offices to use in the nine states.