California governor puts solar project into fast-track approval

Taking action to cut red tape, California Gov. Jerry Brown said Feb. 25 that he has certified a second project for fast-tracked judicial and legislative review under the terms of his 2011 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reforms.

The McCoy Solar Project, a billion-dollar facility that will be located in Riverside County, is now eligible for expedited review under the Jobs and Economic Improvement Act of 2011 (AB 900). AB 900, signed by Brown in September 2011, sends CEQA litigation for certain large projects directly to the Court of Appeal and requires that decisions on the merits are made in a short timeframe.

Brown certified the first project, Apple’s new Cupertino campus, for AB 900 streamlining in June 2012. AB 900 projects are not exempt from CEQA review.

The McCoy Solar LLC project will generate about 341 construction, supervisory, support and management jobs over the project’s 46-month construction, and additional operational jobs once completed. Under the terms of the governor’s certification, McCoy will invest a minimum of $100m in California during construction.

McCoy Solar is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC, which is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE).

The California Air Resources Board has certified that the project will not generate any additional greenhouse gas emissions during construction.

The project will generate up to 750 MW of photovoltaic solar power. It will be sited on 4,315 acres of federal land, 477 acres of private land and include a 15.5 mile long transmission line right-of-way.

In January 2012, Brown signed an agreement with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to expand a state and federal partnership to create more renewable power projects in California.

In April 2011, Brown signed legislation requiring one-third of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources. The legislation increased California’s 20% renewables portfolio standard target in 2010 to a 33% renewables portfolio standard by Dec. 31, 2020.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.