Renewable Energy World
Over the past several years thousands of megawatts of renewable energy projects have been approved for construction on both public and private lands in California. The main development areas have been the Mojave Desert and Carrizo Plain areas of the state. But another region of California with great potential — the San Joaquin Valley — is still largely undeveloped, awaiting a commitment from state planners and regulators to prioritize the building of the transmission line needed to make development in this area feasible. The first San Joaquin Valley area project, known as the Westlands Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ), has huge potential to contribute clean energy to meet California's carbon reduction goals, but it has encountered regulatory roadblocks.
NRDC has consistently encouraged California regulators, utilities and investors to consider the benefits of solar development on impaired farmlands in the Westlands CREZ. This is a promising area for developers and renewable energy development because there are thousands of acres of contaminated farmland facing retirement from irrigated agriculture with few environmental conflicts, and floundering local economies that could benefit from the much needed jobs some of these projects would bring to the area. And every utility in the state could purchase power from this region, as could public and private utilities elsewhere in the West.