The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is being developed to determine the most appropriate locations for utility-scale renewable energy projects in the California Desert while providing effective protection and conservation of desert ecosystems.

Development of the DRECP was mandated by California Executive Order S-14-08 as a way to quicken the permitting process for renewable energy projects in order to meet the state-mandated 33 percent renewable energy portfolio standard by 2020.

The Renewable Energy Action Team (REAT), a collaboration of the California Energy Commission, the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are responsible for preparing the DRECP.

The Stakeholder Committee, which includes representatives from counties in the desert region, renewable energy developers, environmental organizations, electric utilities, recreation groups, and Native Americans, informs the REAT on plan development.

The DRECP will define renewable energy development focus areas (DFAs). DFAs are areas where utility-scale solar or wind energy developers would be provided with permit timing and cost certainty under the Federal and California Endangered Species Acts.  Transmission to the DFAs would be prioritized.

Public comments were collected as part of the scoping portion of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) / Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Process, which ended in August 2012.  The next formal step will be preparation and issuance of a draft EIR/EIS (DEIR/DEIS), expected in the summer of 2013.

Meanwhile the REAT issued an informal Description and Comparative Evaluation of Draft DRECP Alternatives on December 17, 2012.  This document details six alternatives plus a no action alternative.  Public comments on this document were requested by January 23 for maximum consideration but may be submitted at any time up until the draft EIR/EIS is issued.

"ISP 2012 is deeply concerned with the scientific quality of DRECP products and processes we reviewed, a lack of adherence to recommendations from ISA 2010, and inadequate answers by plan participants to questions we raised about methods, documentation, and other plan elements. The panel unanimously concluded that DRECP is unlikely to produce a scientifically defensible plan without making immediate and significant course corrections.... ISP 2012 recommends that the DRECP add scientific expertise from outside institutions to help achieve these improvements."

Independent Science Panel (ISP) Slams DRECP Planning Process:

DRECP ISP 2012 Report
(click to read full report)