Schwarzenegger Applauds Announcement of First Solar Projects Approved on Federal Land

The two projects receiving final federal permits, or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Records of Decision, will infuse more than $1 billion into the state’s economy, power between 226,000 and 500,000 homes with clean electricity and create about 950 jobs in Imperial and San Bernardino counties.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today applauded U.S. Secretary of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement to issue the final permits for the first solar projects to be built on federal lands. The two projects receiving final federal permits, or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Records of Decision, will infuse more than $1 billion into the state’s economy, power between 226,000 and 500,000 homes with clean electricity and create about 950 jobs in Imperial and San Bernardino counties.

“I am excited to join Secretary Salazar today in announcing the first solar projects to ever get permits on federal land, both of which will be located in the Golden State,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “Today’s announcement only further cements California’s national leadership in renewable energy development – and it couldn’t have been done without our federal partners. Our great partnership is helping to improve public health, grow our green economy, promote energy independence and strengthen our national security.”

The two projects receiving final permits are the 709-megawatt (MW) Imperial Valley Concentrating Solar Power in Imperial County and the 45-MW Chevron Lucerne Project in San Bernardino County. The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved the construction of the Imperial Valley Solar Project last month, and with federal approval, the project can now begin construction. The Chevron Lucerne Project did not require approval from the CEC because it’s photovoltaic and smaller than 50 MW. Both projects are located on federal land in California and required BLM permits.

California has consistently led the nation in renewable energy development. The state currently has over 250 renewable energy projects interested in building and running facilities in the Golden State. The CEC has recently approved six large-scale solar energy projects totaling nearly 3,000 MW in clean, renewable energy that will likely start construction in California by the end of this year.

This includes the world’s largest Concentrating Solar Power project, which is expected to reach 1,000 MW. These projects are part of a group of nine solar thermal projects scheduled to go before the CEC for decisions by the end of the year in order to qualify for federal stimulus dollars. If all nine projects are approved, more than 4,300 MW of solar power will be added to our grid, providing more than 8,000 construction jobs and more than 1,000 operational jobs.

Additionally, there are 12 other large wind power and photovoltaic projects working to break ground in California. On top of being home to the world’s largest solar energy project, California is also home to the world’s largest wind energy project, the Alta Wind Energy Center.

According to Terra-Gen Power, the Alta Wind Energy Center will increase wind industry jobs in California by 20 percent, creating more than 1,500 domestic manufacturing, construction and operation and maintenance jobs and contributing more than $600 million to the local economy in Kern County. The Center will also increase the installed wind power capacity in California by 30 percent. Generating 1,550 MW of clean, renewable energy, it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 52 million metric tons, the equivalent to taking 446,000 cars off the road and result in $1.2 billion direct local economic benefits over the life of the project.

Governor Schwarzenegger has a strong and proven commitment to expanding California’s clean energy development that will create jobs, influence national policies and provide a cleaner environment for future generations. In October of 2009, the Governor and Secretary Salazar signed a historic MOU so the state and federal government could work together to ensure timely permitting of renewable energy projects. In March, the Governor signed into law a new program to make it easier to conserve land for endangered species and for developers to build renewable energy projects in California. The program, created by SB X8 34, by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), will help further streamline and expedite the permitting and siting process for large-scale renewable energy projects that will provide jobs and greater energy independence and attract investment. Other actions to promote clean, renewable energy in California include:

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS): In 2009, the Governor signed an Executive Order directing the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to adopt regulations increasing the state’s RPS to 33 percent by 2020. The ARB adopted regulations in September that place the highest priority on renewable resources that will provide the greatest environmental benefits that can be developed quickly and support reliable, efficient and cost-effective electricity system operations including resources and facilities located in California and throughout the Western Interconnection.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS): In 2007, the Governor established the world’s first LCFS. California’s LCFS requires fuel providers to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels sold in the state, dramatically expanding the market for alternative fuels. To start, the LCFS will reduce carbon content in all passenger vehicle fuels sold in California by at least 10 percent by 2020 and more thereafter.

Million Solar Roofs Initiative: The Governor’s $2.9 billion incentive plan for home and building owners who install solar electric systems, now known as the California Solar Initiative, will lead to 1 million solar roofs in California by the year 2018, provide 3,000 megawatts of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million tons.

Green Tech Sales Tax Exemption: Governor Schwarzenegger championed and signed SB 71 by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) earlier this year exempting all clean technology manufacturing equipment from sales tax, allowing California to maintain a competitive edge by expanding the range of projects. This targeted sales tax exemption does not cost the state tax dollars and increases revenue by expanding the number of clean technology manufacturing companies with sites in California.