Solano County’s prohibition on commercial renewable energy facilities and wireless communication facilities could last another year.
A four-fifths vote is needed Tuesday for the Solano County Board of Supervisors to extend a prohibition on renewable energy and wireless communication facilities exceeding 200 feet in height in unincorporated Solano County.
During a public hearing, the community will have an opportunity to weigh in on the “urgency measure” that was first adopted on Nov. 5, 2013, and then extended in December for 10 months and 15 days in response to possible impacts to Travis Air Force Base’s radar operation and the new C-17 Assault Landing Zone resulting from new commercial-scale wind energy and wireless communication facilities, and the conversion of agricultural land resulting from solar energy development in the county. Wireless communication facilities below 200 feet in height and collocation of existing wireless facilities were not included in the interim ordinance, according to county staff.
The county’s General Plan contains policies supporting green energy development, however, the plan also identified policies that include the protection of Travis Air Force Base and its mission as it evolves over time and protection of the county’s valuable agricultural lands.
“Both are potentially threatened by increased renewable energy development,” staff noted in a report to the board. “Adoption of a second extension to the interim ordinance provides a window of opportunity to focus on completing plan and ordinance updates, without having to spend significant time on bringing projects filed to hearing for entitlement action and avoids the risks of approving a project that ultimately is in conflict with the land use plan updates.”
Since adoption of the first interim ordinance, “significant work efforts have been initiated to address these issues” including forming policy and technical committees to work with the consultant and staff to provide guidance in the drafting of the update of the Travis AFB Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan. Additionally, the Airport Land Use Commission, Planning Commission and City-County Coordinating Council have received presentations that detailed the update process.
The Agriculture Advisory Committee also has been discussing the effects of commercial-scale solar projects on agricultural land and is formulating an ordinance addressing those effects. That ordinance will be considered by the Planning Commission within the next several months.
Meanwhile, the board also is asked to consider two exceptions to the extended emergency ordinance.
NextEra Energy is requested to replace a fire-damaged wind turbine with one that is taller than the previous one in the High Winds project area located in the Montezuma Hills area of the county. NextEra, according to staff, indicated that the fire-damaged turbine is no longer being manufactured, necessitating the replacement with a current prototype turbine that is 439.5 feet tall, is 88.5-feet taller.
The second exception is promoted by SolAgra, a firm that has presented to the board previously an interest in construction of a large commercial-scale solar project on Ryer Island. The exception request would allow an agricultural research facility demonstration project that would apply the results of a University of California, Davis pilot project involving the “simultaneous use of agricultural land for crop production and commercial solar energy production.” The exception would involve approximately 10 acres on Ryer Island on agricultural land zoned “exclusive agricultural” that is outside the Airport Influence Area for Travis AFB. In a report to the board, staff explained that 2.5 acres would be devoted to solar panels, 5 acres to a control plot and remaining acreage devoted to a manufacture office building, septic system and parking.
Staff explained that Travis has indicated that the exceptions up for consideration would be narrow enough in scope so as to not conflict with their operations.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the County Government Center, 675 Texas St., Fairfield.