Despite a moratorium on solar and wind developments in Solano County, NextEra Energy will be allowed to replace a damaged wind turbine with one that is taller.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an exception Tuesday to its moratorium that prohibits commercial renewable energy and wireless communication facilities exceeding 200 feet in height in the unincorporated area of the county.
The moratorium allows for the county and Travis Air Force base to research the possible impacts those types of developments could have on the 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.
NextEra, which has three wind turbine facilities in the county, requested that an exception be made to allow the company to replace one 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 noted that the type of wind turbine is no longer manufactured, so the next comparable turbine available is 88.5-feet taller at 426 feet tall.
“This exception is pretty tight,” said Bill Emlen, director of resource management. He added that the county won’t see an influx of businesses requesting that type of exception and explained that the exception is written in a way that fall in line with the moratorium ordinance that’s already in place.
Emlen also explained that a different request by SolAgra is still being researched by county staff. SolAgra is 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.
Supervisor Skip Thomson has previously noted that SolAgra’s request doesn’t line up with a previous request for a pilot project that was much smaller in scale.
Meanwhile, Sacramento recently unveiled the newest “solar park,” a 1.5 megawatt solar installation on Sutter’s Landing Park – producing 2,300 megawatt hours of clean power annually for the Sacramento grid, to be used for residential and commercial consumption.
The impact of this solar installation, according to developer Conergy, is expected to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 3.5 million pounds annually, as well as greenhouse gas emissions equal to removing 350 passenger vehicles from the road for an entire year.
Sutter’s Landing Park is uniquely built on top of a former landfill that was previously deemed unusable.
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