Renewable Energy Overlay Options

POD: 20-010

Project Contact: Don Chase |  (619) 985-3116 

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Public Hearing

This project will be considered by the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday January 27, 2021. For additional information on hearing participation please see the Clerk of the Board website. The Board Letter and supporting material can be found below.

Item #1

Board Letter 
Options to Streamline Renewable Energy Report

Conceptual Renewable Energy Overlay Zone Locations Map

In response to the Board direction, staff completed an conceptual analysis identifying ideal locations for renewable energy (solar and wind) projects in the unincorporated areas.

Please click on the maps for a larger detailed image.


Public Meetings

On November 18, 2020, Planning & Development Services hosted a community conversation virtual workshop.

This conversation focused on staff’s response to Board direction to provide options to streamline the environmental review process for renewable energy projects within unincorporated area of the County. Staff presented the draft options and received community input. 

The Video is Available Here

Project Background

The Board of Supervisors has long acknowledged the need for renewable energy and continues to look for ways to keep its regulations current and to promote renewable energy sources. On February 25, 2009, the Board directed staff to develop a new regulatory framework for wind turbines to simplify processing and bring regulations in line with current wind turbine technology. On April 10, 2013, the Board directed the development of Options for a comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan. On May 8, 2013, the Board approved a Zoning Ordinance amendment to streamline and clarify existing wind energy regulations to increase development opportunities for both small and large wind turbines.

On September 25, 2013, the Board directed initiation of Phase One of the Comprehensive Renewable Energy Work Plan and included a “pipelining” provision for renewable energy permit applications. On February 15, 2017, the Board accepted the CREP Phase One Report, and provided relevant direction related to Phase Two including: Tracking of Community Solar and Wind Initiatives in the County (2); Increase the County’s Renewable Energy Generation, Transmission, Use and Storage (3); Develop and Implement a Renewable Energy Education and Outreach Strategy (6); Develop and implement a Strategy to Support Renewable Energy Legislation that Benefits San Diego County (7); and found that the County’s Zoning Ordinance and California Government Code provide “pipelining” protection for discretionaryrenewable energy project applications.

On February 14, 2018, the Board adopted the Climate Action Plan and Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (Final SEIR). The CAP reduces county GHG emissions consistent with State legislative requirements through CAP implementation and includes strategies & measures to reduce GHG emissions from community and County operations. The Energy category included in the CAP offered the greatest opportunity to achieve emissions reductions across all five categories. Measure E‐2.1: Increase Renewable Electricity, focused on establishment of a Renewable Energy Program and Implementation of the Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan (CREP) Phase One Report to achieve 90% renewable electricity county‐wide by 2030.

On October 15, 2019, and October 29, 2019, the Board adopted an ordinance that memorialized the election to implement a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program, or Community Choice Energy (CCE) program. The Board acknowledged CCEs growth around the state will lead to an ostensible increase in demand for renewable energy, increasing the importance that the County does its part to increase the regional renewable energy supply.

Project Purpose

To further implement renewable energy programs (Wind Ordinance, CREP, CAP, and CCA/CCE), on April 21, 2020, the Board directed staff to return to the Board with options to streamline the environmentalreview process for renewable energy projects, including the options of preparing a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR), identifying ideal locations for renewable energy projects, and developing a design review checklist exemption process.

The Options are intended to provide an organized framework to facilitate further policy decisions and prioritization of County actions related to Renewable Energy Overlay Districts, Design and Development Guidelines, Zoning Regulations, and Program/Project Environmental Processes Streamlining that together could comprise a follow‐on implementation effort.