Bill Hocker | Oct 16, 2018 on: Solar Farming
Eve Kahn gave a statement at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Oct 16th. It is worth repeating:
"How many of you remember when PG&E announced they were installing high voltage transmission lines to expand their interstate power grid. Power lines that would bisect the valley crossing Hwy 29. It didn't seem like we had a choice but the community and electeds responded with a resounding HELL NO. Somehow PG&E found another path to support the grid and we were spared.
Why do I bring this up? Because tomorrow brings a unique opportunity and a similar threat. A private developer has an application for a Solar "Farm" in a remote corner of Am Cyn near Hwy 80 on an AW parcel currently used for horse boarding and training. 21 acres with 18 acres of solar farm. How can this be?
An exception exists to all zoning codes for electric production without limitation. AG/LU 29 states public utility shall be permitted in "appropriate" locations. But, the applicant is a private developer not a public utility.
Let's be clear. Solar Farms are not farms, they are commercial production facilities that convert sunlight into electricity and then sell it (in this case to MCE).
We are familiar with production facilities - we have 100s called wineries. They have regulations, guidelines, and clarifying memorandums and, more importantly, support agriculture.
Solar farms have NONE!
No minimum parcel size No maximum development area
No setbacks or viewshed considerations
Unclear if conservation regs apply - cutting trees, altering runoff, blocking wildlife corridors might be out of our control
Solar Farms should definitely be included in our Strategic Plans
The Am Cyn site may be "appropriate" (although we have no definition), but it sets a precedent that may be impossible to challenge for the next application, or the one after that - which could very well be on Highway 12 or 29, Silverado Trail, Old Sonoma Road, just to name a few.
Tomorrow, I will ask the Planning Commission to defer a decision until you, the Board, set direction & policy. Similar to the recent workshop on Rural Wineries (on your agenda today).
Thank you for your support on the issue."