On September 23, 2014, the U.S Department of Interior and the State of California released a draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (“DRECP”), which covers over 22 million acres in Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.  The DRECP proposes to protect environmentally-sensitive areas of the California desert while also streamlining permitting in areas the DRECP deems appropriate for siting solar, wind, geothermal, and associated transmission development.

The DRECP is the result of an extensive, multi-year public participation process, which included historic levels of collaboration between the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Energy Commission, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  It is intended to provide renewable energy developers with permit timing and cost certainty under the federal and California Endangered Species Acts while at the same time preserving, restoring, and enhancing natural communities and related ecosystems.

The DRECP should be of interest to any companies developing, or considering future development of, renewable energy projects in the California desert areas.  The public will have until January 9, 2015 to provide comments, and public information sessions will be held throughout the fall of 2014.  The draft DRECP and further information on the public comment process is available at www.drecp.org.