Aspen Continues to Play Leading Role in Renewable Energy Development in Southern CA

Desert Landscape_smOn September 23, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency John Laird, and officials from the California Energy Commission (CEC), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and other stakeholders announced the release of the Draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) and EIR/EIS.

The document includes over 11,000 pages and was prepared under Aspen’s contract with the CEC.  The DRECP would cover more than 22 million acres of land in Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. Aspen’s team has been supporting a collaborative effort among the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, CEC, CDFW, and other stakeholders.

Aspen’s staff was responsible for preparing the environmental impact analysis for many of the EIR/EIS disciplines, including socioeconomics and environmental justice, BLM lands and realty, air quality and greenhouse gas analysis, agriculture, recreation, and geology and soils. In addition, Aspen staff worked with the Transmission Technical Group to develop the transmission development scenarios for each of the alternatives. 

As explained on the DRECP website, “ …the draft DRECP proposes to protect areas in the California desert that are important for wildlife, recreation, cultural and other uses while also facilitating the timely permitting of solar, wind and geothermal energy projects and associated transmission in appropriate areas. The draft plan presents six alternative approaches for meeting renewable energy and conservation goals through 2040. Each alternative proposes a different conservation design and configuration of lands available for more efficient and predictable renewable energy project review. The draft plan also includes an analysis of the potential environmental impacts of these alternatives.” 

At the release ceremony, Secretary Jewell stated, “This is a strong and innovative blueprint that shows how federal and state agencies can collaborate to meet conservation and energy objectives on a landscape-scale while providing certainty to developers. I look forward to additional public input on the draft plan.”

Aspen staff and members of our Aspen subcontractor team will be attending all 10 of the DRECP public meetings that will be held throughout California between October 20 and November 13, 2014. Details on the Plan and the meetings are available at the DRECP website.