The Superagency Solution
In many parts of the country, hydraulic fracturing has brought energy development onto people’s doorsteps. Efforts by local governments to employ traditional land use mechanisms to study and mitigate some of the impacts of these latest intrusions have erupted into battles over the scope of statewide agencies’ control.
Forgotten in this fray are many renewable energy resources. As a general rule, they are not subject to statewide oversight, and consequently renewable energy providers must navigate the myriad of siting and permitting requirements of local jurisdictions. For several years, scholars have urged more statewide renewable energy siting procedures to level the playing field. California is the national leader in renewable energy deployment, yet its statewide energy commission does not have jurisdiction over the siting of photovoltaic solar or wind energy plants. This article explores when statewide siting is beneficial and when it may be contraindicated, making a case for consolidation of all large-scale siting under the purview of California’s “superagency,” the California Energy Commission.