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(1) Existing law vests exclusive power to certify a thermal powerplant with the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (Energy Commission) . Existing law requires a person to obtain a certification from the commission prior to commencing the construction of a thermal powerplant, as defined.
This bill would require the Energy Commission to establish a process for certain applicants for certification of a solar thermal powerplant that allows the applicant to elect to pay additional fees to be used by the Energy Commission to contract with 3rd parties to assist Energy Commission staff in performing the analysis otherwise performed by staff in determining whether or not to issue a certification. The Energy Commission would retain discretion as to when this option will be offered to qualified applicants.
(2) The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) requires the Fish and Game Commission to establish a list of endangered species and a list of threatened species and requires the Department of Fish and Game to recommend, and the commission to adopt, criteria for determining if a species is endangered or threatened. CESA states that state agencies should not approve projects, as defined, that would jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat essential to the continued existence of the species if there are reasonable and prudent alternatives available consistent with conserving the species or its habitat that would prevent jeopardy. CESA further declares that in the event specific economic, social, or other conditions make infeasible these alternatives, individual projects may be approved if appropriate mitigation and enhancement measures are provided. CESA authorizes the department to authorize the take of threatened species, endangered species, or candidate species by permit if the take is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity, the impacts of the authorized take are minimized and fully mitigated, the permit is consistent with specified regulations, and the applicant ensures adequate funding to implement the minimization of mitigation measures and monitors compliance with, and effectiveness of, those measures.
This bill would authorize the department, in consultation with the Energy Commission and, to the extent practicable, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and United States Bureau of Land Management, to design and implement actions to protect, restore, or enhance the habitat of plants and wildlife that can be used to fully mitigate the impacts of the take of endangered, threatened, or candidate species (mitigation actions) resulting from certain solar thermal and photovoltaic powerplants in the planning area of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, as defined. The bill would establish the Renewable Energy Resources Development Fee Trust Fund as a continuously appropriated fund in the State Treasury to serve, and be managed, as an optional, voluntary method for developers or owners of eligible projects, as defined, to deposit fees sufficient to complete mitigation actions established by the department and thereby meet their requirements pursuant to CESA or the certification authority of the Energy Commission. The bill would loan $10,000,000 from the Renewable Resources Trust Fund to the fund, to be repaid no later than December 31, 2012, to be used by the department to purchase mitigation lands or conservation easements and to cover related restoration, monitoring, and transaction costs incurred in advance of the receipt of fees and to cover the department's administrative costs for the program.
The bill would require the department to collect, and require the owner or developer of an eligible project to pay, a one-time permit application fee of $75,000. The bill would require that fees collected by the department be deposited in the Fish and Game Preservation Fund. The bill would require the department to utilize the permit application fee to pay for all or a portion of the department's cost of processing incidental take permit applications pursuant to CESA and would appropriate $1,650,000 from the fund for those purposes. If the permit application fee is insufficient to complete permitting work due to the complexity of a project or timeline delays, the bill would authorize the department to collect an additional fee from the owner or developer to pay for its actual costs, not to exceed an additional $75,000.
(3) Existing law, the Administrative Procedure Act, provides for the conduct of administrative adjudication proceedings of state agencies. Existing law generally prohibits during a pending proceeding, communication, regarding any issue in the proceeding, with the presiding officer from an employee or representative of the agency without notice and opportunity for all parties to participate, except as specified.
This bill would except from this general prohibition specified communications relating to determinations of applications for site certification that are before the Energy Commission and are made by employees of another state agency for the purpose of enabling the presiding officer to effectively manage the proceeding.
(4) Existing law generally requires the Department of Personnel Administration to establish and adjust salary ranges for each class of position in the state civil service subject to any constitutional merit limits. Existing law requires the salary range to be based on the principle that like salaries shall be paid for comparable duties and responsibilities. Existing law prohibits the department from making any adjustments that require expenditures in excess of existing appropriations that may be used for salary increase purposes.
This bill, until January 1, 2011, would approve the recruitment and retention differentials of the Department of Personnel Administration for specified employees in State Bargaining Units 1 and 10 employed by the Energy Commission covered by the October 29, 2009, letter from the Director of the Department of Personnel Administration to the Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
The bill would specify that those differentials that require the expenditure of funds would not take effect unless funds for these provisions are specifically appropriated by the Legislature or already exist within available appropriations. The bill would authorize either party to reopen negotiations on all or part of the addendum if the Legislature does not approve or fully fund any addendum included in this measure.
(5) The California Constitution authorizes the Governor to declare a fiscal emergency and to call the Legislature into special session for that purpose. The Governor issued a proclamation declaring a fiscal emergency, and calling a special session for this purpose, on January 8, 2010.
This bill would state that it addresses the fiscal emergency declared by the Governor by proclamation issued on January 8, 2010, pursuant to the California Constitution.
(6) This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.