U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar and Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., D-Calif., have signed a new agreement to expand a state and federal partnership that has, over the last two years, paved the way for more than a dozen utility-scale solar energy projects in California.
These projects, which underwent rigorous environmental review, are expected to generate thousands of construction jobs and power local economies. The new agreement broadens the state and federal partnership to formally include transmission projects and bring in new partners, including the California Independent System Operator, the California Public Utilities Commission and the California State Lands Commission.
The agreement also renews a mutual commitment to landscape-level planning efforts. The partnership, launched in 2009, works through a senior-level Renewable Energy Policy Group (REPG) to expedite review and processing of proposed projects.
The REPG shepherded the renewable energy projects through a complex set of environmental reviews in time for appropriate proposals to take advantage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants, federal loan guarantees and production and investment tax credits, according to Salazar and Brown. In 2012, the group will focus on the seven renewable energy and transmission projects in California on lands administered by DOI's Bureau of Land Management and will also focus on additional projects on private lands.
The full agreement is available here.