For Immediate Release: December 16, 2010
Media Contact: Susanne Garfield - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Approves Renewable Project Manual
Best Management Practices for Timely Permitting Projects in California Desert

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission approved a manual developed by four government agencies that provides recommendations to improve the timely review of renewable power projects in the California desert. The Best Management Practices and Guidance Manual: Desert Renewable Energy Projects was a collaborative effort between the California Energy Commission, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

"These four agencies form the core of the Renewable Energy Action Team that is working to accelerate permitting solar, wind and geothermal power plants while minimizing environmental impacts and conserving the desert's valuable natural resources," said Energy Commission Chair Karen Douglas. "The Energy Commission is proud to be a part of this effort to work with government agencies at all levels to encourage renewable power while protecting this unique and fragile California ecosystem."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called for such collaboration in an executive order in 2008. In 2009, Kenneth Salazar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, issued a similar order, and the two signed a memorandum of understanding that sets priorities and goals for renewable energy projects in California's desert.

Exceptional and rare plants, unique species, and wildlife exist in California's southern desert region. Many desert areas have culturally significant resources including rock outcroppings, vistas, Native American sites, and the dry remains of ancient lakes containing evidence of prehistoric settlements near their shores. Laws, regulations and government policies protect these resources and human health and safety from the impacts of development. The Best Management Practices and Guidance Manual provides recommendations to help developers of desert energy projects understand and meet these federal, state, tribal and local energy and environmental requirements. It also offers information to move projects through permitting in the most expedited and efficient process.

The Energy Commission, DFG, BLM and USFWS produced The Best Management Practices and Guidance Manual after a year of public discussion and comment. Periodically, the agencies plan to update the Manual to incorporate lessons learned form reviewing projects. While the Best Management Practices are specific to energy projects in California's southern desert regions, the recommendations may be applicable to other areas and other states.

To date, the Energy Commission has approved nine of the 11 solar thermal facilities in the current license review process. These nine total more than 4,100 megawatts of electricity. Almost 5,000 megawatts of solar power will be added to the California electricity system if all 11 projects are built. These projects are expected to provide more than 8,000 construction jobs and more than 1,000 operational jobs.

The Best Management Practices and Guidance Manual: Desert Renewable Energy Projects is available on the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan website at

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