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San Bernardino Renewable Energy and Conservation General Plan Element

San Bernardino County Land Use Services Department has used its RECPG funds to prepare a Renewable Energy Element for its General Plan. The County’s effort is referred to as San Bernardino County Partnership for Renewable Energy & Conservation (SPARC). The County received two rounds of RECPG funds for SPARC Phase 1 and SPARC Phase 2 (referred to as the Renewable Energy Value Evaluation and Augmentation Leadership (REVEAL) Initiative).

Phase 1

Under Phase 1, Aspen, as a subcontractor to PMC, prepared case studies of renewable energy projects that provide examples of challenges and successes, including economic benefits, for renew­able energy resource development. The case studies considered a variety of renewable resources at a number of scales, from small, community projects to large-scale commercial projects.

Aspen GIS used renewable energy data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in conjunction with the County-maintained GIS datasets to create dynamic maps illustrating the locations in the county where renewable energy has the most potential for growth. Aspen participated in the County’s first round of stakeholder outreach, and two sets of public workshops to solicit input on the County’s element. Aspen presented the technical reports and maps it created to provide context for the stakeholders. The table below shows the outreach components for Phase 1.

County of San Bernardino SPARC Phase I Renewable Energy Element

(Funded by CEC Renewable Energy and Conservation Grant Program)

  • Participated in 5 public workshops in San Bernardino County to assist with the facilitation of the workshop exercises and to respond to questions on the renewable energy framework during Round 1; Presented case studies of different types and scales of renewable energy
  • Participated in 5 public workshops in San Bernardino County to assist with the facilitation of workshop exercises and to respond to questions on the opportunities and constraints mapping conducted as part of this effort and to respond to questions on the framework during Round 2
  • Facilitated small-group sessions on seeking input on renewable energy policies and goals
  • Prepared large-scale GIS map graphics for the public meetings related to our work on the opportunities and constraints mapping

In addition, Aspen worked with the County and CEC to determine data sources and GIS mapping parameters to prepare renewable energy resources maps to assist in the development of the County’s Renewable Energy Element, and the associated CEQA Program EIR. Throughout the process, Aspen has provided technical assistance on renewable energy by providing the County with the following types of information:

  • federal and State regulatory and policy incentives and directives;
  • market trends and R&D;
  • economic factors;
  • technology requirements;
  • construction, operation, and decommissioning assumptions;
  • electric transmission and distribution capacities and systems;
  • guidance on the DRECP and EIS/EIR content; and
  • types of resource effects resulting from renewable energy development.

In addition, Aspen prepared the Renewable Energy Mapping Project (REMP) Technical Report for the County in support of the RE Element.  The REMP Technical Report includes opportunities and constraints related to RE siting on County lands by providing a step-by-step workflow, accompanying maps, and text narrative that describes areas suitable for RE siting. The final report was produced in March 2015. The REMP’s step-by-step process resulted in the RE Element’s land use map showing areas under County jurisdiction suitable for RE development.

As part of the planning team, Aspen also provided input on all chapters of the RE Element related to renewable energy technology, electric system infrastructure. As of March 31, 2015 (end of RECPG Funds for Phase 1), the County’s RE Element was in its Administrative Draft phase.

Phase 2

This process has been funded by the CEC RECPG Program second round of funding, intended to help local agencies plan for renewable energy in addition to the CEC and BLM’s DRECP efforts.

During Phase 2, Aspen (as Prime Contractor) lead the effort by conducting a cost-benefit analysis of developing community-oriented renewable energy in the County. Efforts included stakeholder interviews and focus group meetings, community outreach workshops focused on identifying the social, environmental, and economic costs and benefits of RE development along with identifying tools for implementation of community-oriented RE, including organization of various types (CCAs, micro-grids, co-ops, etc.), and a county-wide webinar regarding RE tools. The table below shows the extensive outreach efforts:

County of San Bernardino SPARC Phase 2 Benefits and Cost Assessment (REVEAL Initiative)

Funded by CEC Renewable Energy and Conservation Grant Program)

  • Conducted 10 stakeholder interviews regarding renewable energy with representatives from industry, education, conservation, and regional government
  • Conducted 2 two-hour focus groups with a total of 14 stakeholders to address benefits and costs and renewable energy (RE) tools
  • Conducted five community meetings regarding benefits and cost and RE tools; more than 125 individuals attended these meetings in San Bernardino County
  • Prepared all meeting materials including interview questions, comment forms, forms for interactive sessions, and large display boards with text and graphics for community meetings
  • Conducted a countywide webinar to address most viable RE tools identified to date and available funding sources for implementation

As part of Phase 2, Aspen drafted a number of technical reports and studies regarding renewable energy trends, growth scenarios, best practices, and cost-benefit analysis that culminated in the REVEAL Initiative Report. The technical reports for Phase 2 includes:

  • Development of a comprehensive renewable energy database (developed by subcontractor Life Cycle Associates)
  • Best practice case studies (developed by subcontractor Collaborative Economics)
  • Evaluation of eligible RE resources and technology trends/regulations
  • Summary of investment patters over time by technology and funding sources
  • Assessment of current consumer needs and supply options and forecast of future consumer needs and potential supply alternatives
  • Research of RE resource trends and potential in the County
  • Assessment of future transmission needs to support energy demand and distributed generation
  • An investigation of future RE Growth Scenarios
  • Protocols/measures for strategic conservation planning in the context of appropriate RE development
  • Evaluation of best practice tools and customization of the system of best practices
  • An overview of risks and challenges associated with RE development and definition of a risk mitigation system (with help from subcontractor Essergy)
  • Development of a local pilot project concepts
  • Cost-benefit analysis – part of the REVEAL Initiative Report (produced by Life Cycle Associates)
  • Preparation of a final report (i.e., REVEAL Initiative Report) to assess renewable energy trends, demand and supply, and the social, economic, and environmental costs and benefits of RE development. The goal of the report was to help guide future renewable energy project trends within the County. The Final REVEAL Initiative Report was provided to the County in June 2016 and made publicly available as part of the REGPE public hearing.

Practice areas: Energy

Services provided for this project: