California Solar Energy Project Gets Fast-Tracked

     (CN) – Gov. Jerry Brown fast-tracked approval of a $1 billion, 750-megawatt solar energy project that promises new jobs and clean energy for California.
     Planned for Riverside County near Blythe, Calif., the McCoy Solar Project is slated for quick consideration through judicial and legislative review processes under the governor’s 2011 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reform package.
     The package consists of three separate acts: SB 292, widely known as the “stadium bill,” which will facilitate construction of a major new sports stadium in downtown Los Angeles; SB 226, which streamlines the CEQA process to facilitate development of urban infill developments and renewable energy projects; and the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act (AB 900).
     Brown signed AB 900 into law in September 2011 and certified it this week.
     The act “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,” his office said in a statement.
     Brown certified Apple’s new Cupertino campus as the first project under AB 900 in June 2012.
     The McCoy Solar Project, if approved, would generate up to 750 megawatts of energy using photovoltaic technology, enough to power 225,000 homes, the U.S. Department of the Interior said in a statement.
     Brown said 750 megawatts can power about 264,000 homes.
     Most of the facility would sit on public lands. In addition to the roughly 4,315 acres of federal land needed, the project requires 477 acres of private land and a 15.5-mile long transmission line right-of-way.
     That transmission line right-of-way would include a two-acre switchyard, connecting with Southern California Edison’s Colorado River Substation, the Department of the Interior said in a statement.
     Substantial construction would employ 341 “well-paid construction, supervisory, support and management jobs over the project’s 46-month” build out, on top of operational jobs after completion, Gov. Brown’s office said.
     The McCoy Solar Project is expected to spend at least $100 million throughout the state during construction, the governor said.
     It marks the last piece of the puzzle in President Barack Obama’s quest to have renewable facilities produce 10,000 megawatts of energy by 2013.
     “If approved, the project will join 34 renewable energy projects that the Administration has green-lighted for construction on public lands since 2009,” the Interior Department said in a statement. “Together, the projects have the potential to produce approximately 10,400 megawatts of energy – or enough to power approximately 3.4 million homes – and exceed President Obama’s goal of authorizing 10,000 megawatts of utility-scale renewably energy on public lands by 2013. Prior to 2009, there had been zero solar energy projects authorized on public lands.”
     The California Air Resources Board has certified that the McCoy project will not generate any additional greenhouse gas emissions during construction.
     Also of note, in April 2011, Brown signed legislation requiring renewable sources to generate one-third of the state’s power by 2020. About seven months later, he signed an agreement with secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to expand a state and federal partnership to create more renewable power projects in California.

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