Renewable Energy Siting Act
The Renewable Energy Siting Act will reintroduce the provisions of AB 1012 from the 2010 legislative session. The measure builds on previous legislation enacted in 2010 that expedites siting of renewable solar energy plants in the California desert while ensuring protection of wildlife and their habitat. The Act will expand the types of renewable energy projects that may use the SB 34 process, extend the SB 34 approach to the San Joaquin Valley and makes funds available to specified counties to revise local plans to facilitate renewable energy development.
The availability of federal ARRA funds in 2010 for renewable energy development heightened interest among renewable energy developers in siting projects in California. In order to improve the chances of projects qualifying for ARRA funding, the Legislature enacted SB 34 x8 in March 2010, which was designed to expedite solar renewable energy projects to meet ARRA funding deadlines. The bill allowed renewable energy developers to pay fees to the CA Energy Commission to expedite project review and to pay an in-lieu mitigation fee to the state to ensure adequate wildlife and habitat protections when solar projects were sited.
After the enactment of SB 34, a variety of further changes to the renewable energy siting process were proposed by the renewable energy industry, labor, environmentalists and other parties. The Renewable Energy Siting Act contains a number of proposals that have the support or neutrality of these stakeholders.
WHAT THE BILL DOES
The Renewable Energy Siting Act enacts the following provisions to expand and improve the siting of renewable energy power plants in California:
- Expands the SB 34 process to wind and geothermal plants, including the voluntary use of interim mitigation measures and an advanced mitigation fee, payment of voluntary fees to expedite project review and payment of a one-time permit application fee.
- Requires the Dept. of Fish and Game to help prepare a regional conservation plan in the San Joaquin Valley for renewable energy development.
- Allows renewable energy project applicants to provide information to the CEQA reviewing agency on the environmental benefits of the project.
- Provides up to $7 million to desert and San Joaquin Valley counties to revise their local plans to facilitate renewable energy development.