California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order (EO S-14-08) to streamline the state’s renewable energy project approval process and increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for power generation to 33% by 2020.
The Governor also will propose legislative language that will codify the new higher standards and require all utilities, public and private, to meet the 33% target and spread implementation costs across all ratepayers with safeguards for low-income customers. It will allow for the expansion of eligibility for California’s RPS program to renewable energy generation from other western states and reform the renewable energy market structure to spur new development while providing consumer safeguards.
The EO directs state agencies to create comprehensive plans to prioritize regional renewable projects based on an area’s renewable resource potential and the level of protection for plant and animal habitat. To implement and track the progress of the EO, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing a Renewable Energy Action Team (REAT).
To streamline the application process for renewable energy development, the CEC and DFG will create a one-stop permitting process with the goal of reducing the application time for specific projects in half. This will be achieved through the creation of a special joint streamlining unit that will concurrently review permit applications filed at the state level.
The REAT will initiate the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan in the priority Mojave and Colorado Desert regions and identify other preferred areas that will benefit from a streamlined permitting and environmental review process. This will reduce the time and uncertainty normally associated with building new renewable projects.
In addition to the EO announced today, the CEC, DFG, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Bureau of Land Management signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a coordinated approach with our federal partners in the expedited permitting process. This coordinated approach will reduce the time and expense for developing renewable energy on federally-owned California land, including the priority Mojave and Colorado Desert regions.