A bill approved by the state Senate could help the California Energy Commission speed up permits for 11 large renewable energy projects to help draw more federal stimulus money.
Sen. Alex Padilla says swift action is needed because the projects must break ground by year's end to qualify for the federal money.
Among other provisions, the bill lets developers of the solar thermal power plants pay the commission's costs of hiring independent consultants to review the proposals.
The projects are in Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The bill by Padilla, a Democrat from Los Angeles, was approved on a 33-0 vote Monday. It now goes to the Assembly.