Last week the County of San Luis Obispo took a huge step toward energy independence by approving a 250 megawatt solar pv farm, also known as the California Valley Solar Ranch. We’re excited about this news. Here’s why:
When it’s up and running, this solar farm will produce enough energy to power over 55,000 homes.
While that’s impressive, it is not the only reason that we like this project. At CEC we are careful about the projects we endorse. We thoroughly review the full environmental impact report and ensure that the project mitigates the impacts to the greatest extent possible. Here’s a little insight into our process.
First, we check out where they are planning to build the project. The location of the project is the most important way to minimize impacts. We support projects that are:
- On previously disturbed land – Most of this particular site is grazing land. Parts are zoned for agriculture and parts were for a development project that never went forward.
- Near existing transmission lines – The transmission line for this project is 3.6 miles from a substation. This is very close! Check out the map below.
- Near existing load centers – This project is near load centers in both San Luis Obispo and King Counties.
Next, we investigate how they are minimizing their impact on the environment. In this project, SunPower plans to (among other things):
- Avoid the most critical of habitat for species of special concern, namely the giant kangaroo rat.
- Acquire conservation lands at a 4:1 ratio. This means that for every acre they disturb, they will put four acres into permanent conservation easements.
- Participate in Regional Recovery Plans for species on the Carrizo Plain.