San Diego

San Diego County supervisors approve Jacumba solar project

As California seeks 100% zero-carbon electrical energy by 2045, momentum is constructing behind renewable power initiatives.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Wednesday to approve a allow to build the county’s largest solar farm in Jacumba Hot Springs regardless of opposition from lots of the city’s residents who mentioned the project’s measurement and placement would strangle neighborhood progress.

The supervisors’ approval requires the developer to extend the money it supplies to the neighborhood from $1.6 million to $4 million and to extend the buffer area between houses and the solar panels from 300 to 400 ft or extra.

Several supervisors mentioned the vote was a troublesome resolution, however one which thought-about the county’s broader renewable power targets.

“Our planet is on fire and we cannot continue to delay action to tackle climate change,” mentioned Chairman Nathan Fletcher.

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer mentioned she was in favor of the developer’s proposal in idea however didn’t suppose it made the neighborhood complete.

“This is the kind of environmental injustice that I think we fear when we look at big scale energy investments,” she mentioned, later negotiating the extra modifications and voting in favor of the project.

Jeffrey Osborne, one of many new co-owners of the vast majority of the property on the town, together with the Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel, mentioned the issue was not money, however measurement.

“You’re creating a sacrifice zone as we speak,” he informed the Board of Supervisors.

The renewable power arm of BayWa, a Germany-based company, desires to interrupt floor on the solar farm early subsequent year and have it up and operating by early 2023. The 604 acres of solar panels would lie east of Jacumba, beginning simply past the city, and sandwich historic Old Highway 80, which provides views of the desert, mountains and the U.S.-Mexico border a half-mile away.

The developer is below contract to ship the 90 megawatts of energy from the solar panels to San Diego Community Power, which supplies renewable electrical energy to the cities of Chula Vista, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, La Mesa and San Diego utilizing San Diego Gas & Electric’s grid. The project would energy about 57,000 houses.

BayWa and a few neighborhood members, have been at odds over how finest to make use of the positioning, which is fallow farmland, and the way finest to offset the influence in town.

Osborne is among the most vocal critics, however greater than 50 group and particular person audio system requested to speak on the Board of Supervisors meeting, the bulk in opposition. People sporting matching yellow shirts proclaiming “Save Jacumba” stuffed the chamber to capability.

Some residents’ considerations embrace the lack of vistats that drive tourism, the warmth island impact the darkish solar panels might create and the problem of touchdown a glider on the close by Jacumba airport.

They have additionally identified that along with receiving not one of the clear power from the solar panels that can be constructed close to their houses as soon as the project is full, in addition they will proceed to expertise SDG&E’s energy shut-offs during times of excessive wind and fireplace threat.

The Jacumba Hot Springs Community Sponsor Group, which formally advises the county on land use selections, advocated for BayWa to scale down the greater than 600-acre solar farm to roughly 300 acres and to offer back-up energy for the city in addition to build mountain climbing and wildlife corridors.

But the company mentioned that plan wouldn’t work.

Instead, BayWa has sought to offer neighborhood advantages within the type of money, hanging offers with the Jacumba Community Services District and the Imperial Valley Desert Museum to offer $325,000 for a neighborhood park and a museum exhibit. The county’s Planning Commission had already urged the developer to do extra for the neighborhood when it voted to approve the project on July 9, and the developer informed the Board of Supervisors it could commit $1.6 million, though it had not finalized any further agreements earlier than the meeting. Among the proposals is $1 million for solar methods for the houses and companies of Jacumba neighborhood members and $125,000 for a senior vitamin program at San Ysidro Health.

The supervisors voted Wednesday to get county workers concerned to assist the developer and the neighborhood negotiate the extra neighborhood advantages agreed upon on the meeting.

The project has the assist of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which cited the creation of development jobs, and CleanTech San Diego, a clear power affiliation which cited environmental and financial advantages.

Also driving momentum is a statewide push towards renewable power. Public officers and utilities are below stress to assist California meet its aim of deriving 100% of its electricity from renewable and carbon-free resources by 2045 to restrict local weather change. County supervisors voted on Feb. 10 to approve measures to streamline renewable power improvement within the backcountry.

Six different wind or solar initiatives are in numerous planning and allowing phases inside 17 miles of Jacumba.

The now-fallow land slated for the Jacumba solar project had been a farm till 2012 and was as soon as thought-about for housing. The property stretches from Interstate 8 to the U.S.-Mexico border. Totalling 1,356 acres, the positioning would additionally embrace a everlasting switchyard, 90 megawatts in battery storage, open area and landscaping alongside a fringe fence.

The project’s approval comes with a plan to take down the panels after 35 years, though the developer might search one other allow to increase the project. Opponents say the solar farm’s permanency past 35 years is inevitable.

inewsource is a nonprofit, independently funded newsroom that produces impactful investigative and accountability journalism in San Diego County. Learn more at inewsource.org.

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