Solar development in California is influenced by a number of policies, processes and incentives.  The growth of the solar industry proceeds according to federal priorities, state-level goals for electricity generation, market conditions and availability of suitable development sites. The path to implementation varies depending on the technology and scale of development as well as on the decision making process of government agencies issuing development permits.  The process of development for proposed utility-scale solar facilities on public lands involves a Right-of-Way (ROW) grant from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a license from the California Energy Commission (CEC), approval of a power purchase agreement from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), 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 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, the current process’s strengths and weakness are analyzed and alternative processes are examined. 

The development of utility-scale solar facilities is part of a growing solar industry driven by market signals, economic incentives, and improving technology.  A historical perspective on the growth of the solar industry in general illustrates the impacts of policies and incentives on market development.  Federal and state-level policies and programs meant to incentivize widespread adoption of solar technologies are directed at both utility-scale and distributed generation systems in order to achieve energy security, address climate change and stimulate the economy.  Additionally, federal and state-level policies have incentivized the development of public land for renewable energy. Several hurdles to widespread adoption of solar technologies will require policies and incentives that positively impact the growth of the solar industry into the future and direct the industry towards land use which minimizes the environmental impact of project development.