On February 7, 2011, a bill was introduced in the California State Assembly aimed at expediting the siting and permitting of renewable energy projects in the state, with special emphasis on the San Joaquin Valley. Assembly Members V. Manuel Pérez, Steven Bradford and Nancy Skinner introduced Assembly Bill 13 (AB13), the Renewable Energy Siting Act, with the goal of building on the successful implementation of Senate Bill 34 (PDF) (SB34) by enacting additional changes proposed by the renewable energy industry, labor, environmentalists and others.
According to the Renewable Energy Siting Act fact sheet (PDF), the Act has four main components:
- 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 Department 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; and
- Provides up to $7 million to desert and San Joaquin Valley counties to revise their local plans to facilitate renewable energy development.
Full text of the act is available at www.leginfo.ca.gov. The bill is currently in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.