Decision-Making Process

Due to the ecological and socioeconomic impacts described in previous chapters, it is important to discuss how decisions will be made regarding proposed utility-scale solar facilities on public lands. The process of development for proposed facilities on public lands involves a Right-of-Way (ROW) grant from the BLM, a license from the California Energy Commission (CEC), approval of a power purchase agreement from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and feasibility, system impact, and facilities studies from the California Independent System Operator (CalISO), among others. The following is an explanation of these individual processes, how they interact, and how these agencies are attempting to create a single process for solar developers.

As the BLM is the major agency responsible for approving the siting of solar facilities and is currently implementing the Solar PEIS, through which it is possible to change the permitting process, an evaluation of the process was conducted. The evaluation highlighted strengths as well as weaknesses of the process. To assist in creating recommendations to address the weaknesses, two alternative processes, onshore oil and gas leasing and wind right-of-way grants, were analyzed to identify components that could be applied to the solar process to improve it.