Commission & Bureau of Land Management sign landmark agreement to facilitate renewable energy projects

Sacramento – Today, Bureau of Land Management California Director James Kenna and California State Lands Commission Executive Officer Curtis Fossum signed an important memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Commission and the United States Department of Interior to facilitate land exchanges that consolidate state “school lands” in the California desert into contiguous holdings that are suitable for large renewable energy projects. The Commission approved the MOA at its March 29, 2012 meeting.

“Today’s action moves us closer to increasing California’s renewable energy portfolio and our clean energy future,” said California State Controller and State Lands Commission Chair John Chiang.

Legislation enacted last year, AB 982 (Skinner), requires the Commission to enter into an MOA with the Secretary of the Interior to facilitate land exchanges that consolidate school land parcels into contiguous holdings that are suitable for renewable energy projects, including solar, wind, and geothermal.

California retains surface and mineral ownership to nearly 468,600 acres of school lands and the mineral rights to an additional 790,000 acres. Over 325,000 acres of school lands are in the California desert and are generally landlocked, remote, and non-revenue generating. Many of these lands are surrounded by federal property.

The exchanges facilitated by this MOA will help California achieve its renewable and clean energy goals by consolidating these fragmented and isolated school land parcels into contiguous parcels with greater income and renewable energy generation potential. In particular, it will help California achieve its ambitious Renewables Portfolio Standard, which requires electricity suppliers to procure 33 percent of their electricity supplies from renewable energy sources by 2020.

The principles of the MOA are:

  • The Bureau of Land Management will seek to acquire state owned school lands within national parks, national monuments, and federal wilderness areas within the California Renewable Conservation Area.
  • The Commission will seek to exchange its lands for federal lands suitable for siting large-scale renewable energy projects or which otherwise have potential to generate revenue that will benefit the State Teachers’ Retirement System.
  • The parties to the MOA agree to use the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan data and any other resources to expedite identifying parcels to exchange.