Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., has signed Executive Order (EO) S-14-08 to streamline California's renewable energy project approval process and increase the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 33% by 2020.
Schwarzenegger will also 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 will advance California's transition into a clean energy economy and direct 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 habitats. To implement and track the progress of the EO, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) 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.
To jump-start Natural Communities Conservation Plans under the EO, 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 dramatically reduce the time and uncertainty normally associated with building new renewable projects.
In addition, the CEC, DFG, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a coordinated approach with federal partners in the expedited permitting process. This coordinated approach will significantly reduce the time and expense for developing renewable energy on federally owned California land, including the priority Mojave and Colorado Desert regions.
SOURCE: Office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger