California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) last week signed into law a bill that extends an expedited permitting process previously limited to large-scale solar projects to wind and geothermal projects planned for installation in California’s Mojave and Colorado Deserts.

The law, ABx1 13, streamlines the siting and permitting process for renewable energy projects within the state’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). Under the law, the state’s Department of Fish and Game (DFG) may offer wind and geothermal project developers the option of paying mitigation fees in lieu of the traditional permitting process. Those fees would then be used by the DFG to acquire and restore habitat lands for species impacted by the projects. Included in the bill are also a number of fee accountability and transparency provisions to ensure that the DFG has the staff capacity to expedite project reviews. These renewable energy developer fees are scheduled to end in 2016.

The law was introduced by Assemblyman Manuel Peréz (D-Coachella). The law also authorizes the state Energy Commission to grant up to $7 million to Southern California counties to revise their zoning ordinances in a way that encourages alternative energy projects.

"By expediting renewable energy permitting and siting processes, we can achieve our state’s renewable energy goals and create jobs in California," Pérez said in a statement. "Smart policy choices such as this new law will help encourage a climate that spurs business investment and innovation and promotes a sustainable economic recovery."

Sources: POWERnews, Office of Gov. Jerry Brown, Assemblyman Manuel Peréz