California commission awards over $3m in renewable energy grants

For Immediate Release: June 12, 2013

SACRAMENTO – The California Energy Commission today awarded $3,341,152 in renewable energy planning grants to five counties.

“Today the Energy Commission awarded more than $3 million to five California counties with some of the best renewable energy resources in the state,” said Energy Commission Vice Chair Karen Douglas. “These awards will help these counties update their local plans to incorporate long-term renewable energy development and conservation objectives.”

The counties receiving grants are: Imperial, Inyo, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, and Los Angeles. The funds came from Assembly Bill X1 13, which made available $7 million in grants for counties to develop or update planning documents that will assist the development and permitting of renewable energy projects. Fifteen counties were eligible for the grant program, including counties within the boundaries of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), San Luis Obispo County, and counties within the San Joaquin Valley.

The DRECP is an unprecedented collaboration among local, state and federal agencies to streamline renewable energy project and transmission line permitting while conserving biological and natural resources in the California desert.

The funding will help counties with their collaboration and coordination with the DRECP while also addressing renewable energy and conservation goals within their planning processes.

The grants were awarded to the following:

  • Imperial County will use $700,000 to update and amend the geothermal/alternative energy element of the county’s general plan. The project calls for revising ordinances, maps and other required environmental documents involved.
  • Inyo County will receive $700,000 to update the county’s renewable energy general plan amendment and prepare an environmental impact report (EIR).
  • San Bernardino County will use $700,000 create a renewable energy and conservation element in the county’s development of a new general plan. The county also plans to make strategic changes to the county’s regulatory system.
  • San Luis Obispo County will receive $638,152 to revise the county’s policies and ordinances by creating a renewable energy streamlining program. Allowable land uses in areas identified as renewable energy combining designations will prioritize eligible renewable energy development over other land uses. They will consist of areas with available infrastructure and renewable resources.
  • Los Angeles County will receive $603,000 to create a renewable energy ordinance and a programmatic EIR that will help mitigate development issues such as cumulative impacts. Having the ordinance and the EIR will help shorten the environmental review because developers can use information from the EIR when seeking permits for individual projects. Renewable energy polices will be revised as the county updates the general plan and the Antelope Valley Area Plan. The policies will be the foundation for the ordinance.

All the grantees will have two years to complete the proposed work. Funds will be paid to the grantees after submitted invoices are reviewed and approved.

AB X1 13 required counties in the DRECP planning area to be DRECP plan participants or to sign memorandum of understandings (MOUs) with the Commission to be eligible for funds. Those counties -Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino – have approved MOUs with the Commission.

The DRECP is focused on the desert regions and the adjacent lands of seven California counties – Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego. Approximately 22.5 million of acres of federal and non-federal California desert land are in the DRECP planning area.

A draft environmental impact statement/report for the DRECP is expected to be released by the end of the year. The agencies developing the DRECP are the Energy Commission, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.