As per 2009-10 budget proposed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, $3 million in funding would be set aside to streamline the process of bringing solar power and other renewable energy projects to the Mojave and Colorado desert regions. The budget proposal would create 20.9 positions for the Department of Fish and Game to develop a plan aimed at facilitating the permitting of renewable energy projects in the Mojave and Colorado regions.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) would get $2.6 million and 10 positions to assist the Department of Fish and Game and the Bureau of Land Management in developing solar projects while reducing the environmental impacts.
California Department of Finance Deputy Director H D Palmer, said that despite the state’s current fiscal crisis, the governor felt it was important to continue making strides in renewable energy.
“One of the things the governor has been committed to since he took office is to make California a leader, not just nationally but internationally, in renewable energy,” Palmer said.
The budget is follow on of an executive order Schwarzenegger issued in November 2008, calling for an expansion of renewable energy generation in California. The governor felt that the permitting process needed to be streamlined to meet a state mandate that retail sellers of electricity supply 33% of the state’s electricity with renewable energy by 2020.
Susanne Garfield, a spokeswoman with the CEC, said that in the past, there have been hold-ups in permitting renewable energy projects on federal land, because the state and the federal government have very different permitting processes.
“We’re trying to consolidate and, at least correlate the processes,” Garfield said.
San Bernardino County First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt expressed his concern about the sheer amount of land that could be impacted if all of the currently proposed projects in California’s desert area approved. He continued that he would also like to see the state turn more attention to facilitating the permitting process for other types of projects.
“To be honest, if the governor wants to streamline projects, the governor should also be streamlining public works projects,” Mitzelfelt said.