Next Wednesday, the California Energy Commission will consider adoption of a Proposed Decision that would “expand” the Commission’s jurisdiction over the permitting of energy facilities in California.  The Proposed Decision arises from a motion by Solar Trust of America asking the Energy Commission to find that photovoltaic electrical generating facilities may voluntarily submit to the Commission’s exclusive permitting jurisdiction.  For thirty-five years, the Commission has acted as the “one-stop shop” for the permitting of thermal energy facilities greater than 50 megawatts capacity in California, including gas-fired, geothermal and solar-thermal power plants.  However non-thermal facilities (e.g. wind and solar PV) and projects under 50 megawatts were excluded from CEC jurisdiction. The Proposed Decision provides an interpretation of an existing statutory “opt in” provision, which would allow solar photovoltaic projects (and logically, by extension, other non-thermal projects of less than 50 megawatt) to opt in to the Energy Commission’s permitting process and avoid local permitting jurisdiction.  The Commission’s jurisdiction over a proposed energy facility generally dispenses with the need to obtain most other local, regional, and state permits, though it does not eliminate the obligation to comply with applicable local, regional, and state laws and regulations.  Solar Trust’s motion to open up the Commission’s state-level permitting process for the first time to strictly non-thermal projects has been of interest to a variety of sectors and numerous parties participated in the briefing leading to the Proposed Decision.  The Proposed Commission Decision Affirming that Warren-Alquist Act Section 25502.3 Applies to Photovoltaic Electrical Generating Facilities is available for public comment preceding the December 14 hearing.