Solar Project Moves to the Fast Track

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Gov. Jerry Brown recently gave a special certification to the McCoy Solar Project in Riverside County, allowing it to move quickly through the review process for approval.

The move forward on the $1 billion project comes under the Jobs and Economic Improvement Act of 2011. This allows massive projects to move directly to the state's Court of Appeal, which in turn means the decision-making process on California Environmental Quality Act litigation is expedited. This is the second time Brown has used the Jobs and Economic Improvement Act; the first was for Apple's new campus in Cupertino. As part of the deal with McCoy, the company will invest at least $100 million in the state during construction, and construction plans have been certified by the California Air Resources Board that the building process will not emit additional greenhouse gasses. The project will be set on 4,315 acres of public land under the auspices of the federal Bureau of Land Management and 477 acres of private land; the site is about 13 miles northwest of the town of Blythe.

According to the governor's office, the McCoy Solar Project is slated to generate about 341 jobs during a 46-month construction period, with more jobs added once the facility is up and running. When McCoy is online, it can produce up to 750 megawatts of photovoltaic solar power, which would provide enough electricity for more than a quarter of a million homes. According to McCoy Solar, a subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources, the project will save about 1 million tons in carbon dioxide that would have been produced by using fossil fuels instead. The solar project would be another step toward meeting California legislative requirements that the state must derive 33 percent of its energy from renewable resources by the end of 2020.

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