After months of initial efforts and listening sessions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving to overcome barriers to the greater success of its “RE-Powering” program, which seeks to encourage developers and others to site renewable energy projects on contaminated industrial, commercial, and mining property. On October 14, EPA announced a new draft Management Plan that it hopes will increase awareness and promote further deployment of renewable energy on previously used sites rather than on “greenspace.”

EPA’s draft plan – which is open for comment until November 30, 2010 – establishes three goals, five objectives, and 20 action items. The three overarching goals include: (1) providing incentives and technical assistance, (2) assisting communities in identifying and reusing sites, and (3) enhancing coordination and collaboration among federal agencies.

Among the action items are the following:

  • create a “SWAT” team of experts from EPA and other federal agencies who are knowledgeable about placing renewable energy projects on contaminated properties, and who can be available on a quick-response basis to answer questions from developers, land owners, and others
  • develop guidance on (1) siting renewable energy projects on contaminated land while cleanup is still underway and after it is complete, and (2) technical aspects of building photovoltaic projects on closed landfills
  • promote incentives at state and federal levels that give extra credit for locating renewable energy facilities on contaminated or reclaimed land, including supporting model language for a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for states, directing EPA’s purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) as part of its effort to be a “green-powered agency,” and working with other federal agencies to incorporate preferences in grant and loan guarantee programs and tax credits
  • clarify liability issues, including using enforcement discretion guidance, creating a checklist of steps for energy developers, and developing new tools to address liability concerns.

Developers, renewable energy companies, investors, and others with an interest in renewable energy deployment should take a close look at the draft plan and consider submitting comments.

EPA’s draft plan is available at http://www.epa.gov/renewableenergyland/docs/repower_management_plant.pdf. EPA will hold a webinar explaining the RE-Powering program on October 21, 3-4 p.m. EDT; registration information is available at http://www.clu-in.org/live/default.cfm#Renewable_Energy_on_Potentially_ Contaminated_Land_Webinar_Series:_Introduction_of_EPA's_RE-Powering_America's_Land.

For more information on this topic, listen to the Pepper Hamilton videoconference recorded on January 21, 2010, “Re-Powering Brownfield Sites and Related Incentives for Renewable Energy Development,” and read a related article, “How to Turn Blighted Property into Community Assets through Re-powering.”