February 5 (Renewables Now) - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is preparing to make changes to a desert conservation plan that limits energy development in California, the agency said Thursday.
Such a move comes in line with a call by the Trump administration to “review regulations that unnecessarily impede energy development,”. BLM will open a 45-day public comment period for possible changes to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). Comments will be sought in particular on how land designations in the plan could affect the development of solar, wind and other renewable energy projects.
“We need to reduce burdens on all domestic energy development, including solar, wind and other renewables,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Katharine MacGregor. In addition, the process is intended to make available more land for wireless broadband infrastructure, she added.
BLM cited President Trump’s Executive Order 13783, which calls for federal agencies to review all actions that could “burden the development or use of domestically produced energy sources”.
According to renewable energy associations and local governments, the current DRECP did not designate enough public lands for future renewable energy development. It also created certain regulatory hurdles that are considered to be making projects too costly and put excessive pressure on private lands.
DRECP covers 22.5 million acres (9.2 million ha) of federal and non-federal land in the Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties of California.
Under the California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) investor-owned utilities, electric service providers and community choice aggregators in the state have to reach a 33% renewable energy share in total procurement by 2020 and 50% by 2030.