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Overlay Zoning for Renewable Energy and Transmission Lines

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The essentials

  • Overlay zoning can ease policy issues facing renewable energy generation development and transmission line development, including issues such as: 1. The time required for the permitting process; 2. The conundrum of transmission line development that is critical to renewable energy development in isolated areas.
  • Gila Bend, Arizona has promoted its burgeoning solar industry through Solar Field Overlay Zones (SFOZs). ¬†Other parts of the country have implemented similar overlay zoning plans to ease renewable energy development permitting processes. Imperial County, CA and Klickitat County, WA have successfully implemented this zoning strategy to encourage geothermal power plants and wind energy power plants, respectively.
  • SFOZs operate as a placeholder for both distributed generation and utility-scale solar generation projects while also decreasing the permitting process timeline from as much as one year to as little as four weeks.
  • In Texas, there was little to no transmission line capacity for optimal wind energy project sites. In 2005 they began planning Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZs) to address encourage transmission line development.
  • CREZs have led to the development of transmission line capacity for 6,000 MW of wind energy, with 18,500 MW planned, throughout the state of Texas.