Inspector general recommends tighter bonding, monitoring requirements and competitive bidding for leases
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Bureau of Land Management needs to tighten up its collection procedures and beef up bonding requirements to ensure that the public gets a fair return on lands leased for renewable wind and solar projects, according to a Department of Interior inspector general report released last month.
The absence of a process to ensure timely collections on wind rental revenues on 22 projects resulted in a loss of $1.2 million between 2009 and 2011, and shortfall in bonding of $8.5 million on 14 wind projects, the report found.
Insufficient bonding could leave the BLM at risk to future liability for reclamation and damage to natural resources.
In a couple of cases, field offices failed to update rental rates, claiming they had questions about how they were to be implemented and were still waiting for guidance from state-level offices.
The agency could also potentially generate millions of dollars in additional revenues if it used a competitive bidding process for renewable energy projects. The BLM is currently developing new rules that would guide a competitive bidding process for wind and solar energy development. (more…)