This photo comes from the County's Draft Climate Action Plan. While intended to show the laudable use of solar energy for power generation it also raises (unintentionally, I assume) the issue of the highest and best use of Napa's agricultural land - for crops or solar collectors. That issue is already before us in the Coombsville solar farm proposal below. Solar arrays, if they are to become a credible substitute for existing power will require a lot of land. Now should be the time that appropriate restrictions are placed in their location so that desirable land for agriculture and viewshed preservation are not lost before we wake up to the problem. Limiting them to the industrially zoned parcels in the south county (in lieu of or atop all those GHG-generating concrete boxes and their parking lots perhaps) is a better solution.
It is appropriate to ask why a major solar panel installation is being proposed in a rural residential neighborhood and requiring the removal of oak woodlands rather than in the industrial zoned areas of the county, perhaps shading some of the mega parking lots to be built there.
Solar panels may slow down the suicide of the human species but they are not neighborhood or viewshed friendly. Fortunately a review by the planning commission at an as yet unspecified date will give the community a chance to weigh in on this very inappropriate site.
The Trail is already filling up with garish homes and event centers and parking lots and left turn bumps and now the indignity of an industrial power plant.
It's churlish, and un-PC, to bad-mouth solar power. But we should recognize, as solar power provides more and more of our energy, that solar collectors are attractive only in their novelty and their benefit toward prolonging life on earth. In fact they are little different in appearance than a full parking lot.
As every home and business begins to burden the landscape with an array, the landscape will suffer. We see even now the jarring apparition of arrays climbing the hillsides behind homes and wineries, with little thought about their visual impact, but much admiration for the "green" commitment of their owners. And large solar arrays, as with the half acre at Rector, are significant money makers that will further speed their adoption, particularly in areas with a lot of open space - like Napa. It is really time for a solar array ordinance to "mitigate" (I would prefer "eliminate") their visual impacts going forward.
About the Rector array: this is an ideal opportunity to propose a 6-8' berm (a modest bit of earthwork perhaps garnished with vines) at the front of the property to hide both the panels and the corporation yard with its industrial detritus. It could be constructed perhaps with a bit of the 1400 acre feet of silt washed down from the vineyard development in the hills that currently diminishes the capacity of the reservoir. A definite win-win for all.