AB 982 Update – AB 982, which became law in 2011, directed the State Lands Commission and the Department of the Interior to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), designed to facilitate land exchanges to consolidate state school land parcels consistent with renewable energy development of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).
School Lands Commission generated $7.8 million in gross revenue for CalSTRS
SLC staff provided input into the draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report that will guide land exchanges between the State and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the purpose of protecting valuable biological and cultural resources in the desert while paving the way for renewable energy development. This initiative was enacted, in part, to facilitate the Governor’s desire to achieve 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.
During fiscal year 2014–15, staff continued efforts to support the DRECP planning process by maintaining a GIS database of land ownership, mineral resources, biological resources, historical resources, and renewable energy resources and providing comments relative to mineral potential and value. The majority of the in-office research regarding the mineral potential of fee-owned school land parcels was conducted using GIS software, geologic reports, and other data provided publically through the USGS, California Geological Survey and the BLM.
AB 982 allows SLC to use funds from the School Land Bank Fund for such costs and expenses. AB 982 also allows the Legislature to appropriate funds to reimburse the School Land Bank Fund from revenues resulting from future projects.
For fiscal year 2014-15, expenditures from the School Land Bank Fund related to developing the exchange agreement and completing the necessary coordination with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) totaled $326,161.32. Revenues resulting from leasing existing and consolidated school lands, for the purpose of renewable energy projects, are expected to exceed the initial costs to the School Land Bank Fund and will be deposited into the State Treasury to benefit the Teachers’ Retirement Fund.
BLM staff estimates the final DRECP Land Use Plan Amendment (LUPA) will be released in late 2015 and the decision will be issued within the first quarter of 2016. SLC staff expects significant progress will be made toward finishing the land exchange by the end of 2016.
The proposed exchange includes a solar project that is already constructed and operating. Because of the BLM right of way grant, immediately upon completion of the exchange and issuance of a lease to the operator, revenues to the Teachers’ Retirement Fund are estimated to be $4,000,000 annually.