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Developers look for exception to Solano’s halt on wind, solar development

Wind and solar developers are seeking exceptions to Solano County’s moratorium on wind and solar developments in unincorporated areas.

NextEra Energy has requested to replace a damaged wind turbine with one that is taller in height and SolAgra has requested to be allowed to develop an agricultural research facility demonstration pilot project involving the simultaneous use of agricultural land for crop production and commercial solar energy production.

Tuesday, the Solano County Board of Supervisors will consider those requests and an amendment to its moratorium on wind and solar projects in the unincorporated area of the county.

The moratorium is in response to possible impacts to Travis Air Force Base resulting from new commercial-scale wind energy and wireless communication facilities and the impacts to agricultural land when converted to a solar energy development. To date, staff said, Travis Air Force Base has indicated that the exceptions being contemplated would be “narrow enough in scope so as to not conflict with their operations.”

After approving an extension to the moratorium during a board meeting on Oct. 7, the supervisors directed staff to further evaluate the requests for exception. Staff is now recommending that the NextEra Energy exception be considered Tuesday, while the SolAgra request continues to be evaluated, primarily by the Agriculture Advisory Committee.

In a report to the board, staff explained that the NextEra exception request would allow the company to replace a fire damaged 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. Representatives from NextEra have said that the fire damaged turbine is no longer manufactured, necessitating the replacement with a current prototype that is 98 feet taller, an increase from 328 feet high to 426 feet high.

Meanwhile, SolAgra’s request is being reviewed by the Agricultural Advisory Committee and other interested parties, staff noted and added that once that process is completed the results will be provided to the board for consideration.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the County Government Center, 675 Texas St., Fairfield.