Wind Power Projects Few and Far Between in California

by Robin Yeager on 09/30/2009

in Renewable Energy

Land values, environmental pushback and regulatory dysfunction at all levels contribute to the difficulties of developing wind projects in California, Nancy Rader, executive director of the California Wind Energy Association, said at a seminar on Developing Wind Power Projects in California.

California’s permitting process takes three to six years and costs ~$1 million to $3 million, much of that in legal fees and environmental studies. Other problems include the lack of transmission infrastructure for renewables.

Rader was frustrated by Gov. Schwarzenegger’s intent to veto (which he has since done, instead of issuing an Executive Order) the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) bills (SB 14, AB 64), which would have codified a 33% RPS by 2020. She noted that the legislation wasn’t ideal but, after two years of negotiating with diverse interests, it was the best the alternative power industry could get out of the California Legislature at this time.

Meanwhile, the governor confounded listeners by asserting in a Sept. 24 interview that his Executive Order is “actually stronger than the law”. During the same interview, the head of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), said the order, which directs CARB to adopt a 33% rule by July 2010, will have the force of law once adopted.

Rader noted that Southern California Edison is already arguing that CARB’s Scoping Plan, developed pursuant to California’s climate bill AB 32, shouldn’t be implemented because it doesn’t have the force of law. Rader expects any party unhappy with CARB’s 33% RPS to sue.


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