County Policy on Ag Land Solar Power Moves to CEQA Stage

By Ron McNicoll : – excerpt

A new draft of solar power policies for rural installations in East County is moving ahead with a supervisor’s direction to staff to prepare an environmental document for a general plan amendment.

Supervisor Scott Haggerty, chairman of the Alameda County Supervisors Board’s Transportation and Planning Committee, gave the direction to staff. The other committee member, Nate Miley, was absent. The five-member board places only two supervisors on each of its committees, so that there would be no three-member quorum of the full board when an issue comes to a vote…

Staff members will spend time discussing among themselves whether a full EIR or a negative declaration would be prepared. Then the environmental document will go through the same public process that the draft policy did, with stops at a public information and discussion meeting, the planning commission, the agricultural advisory commission, and finally the board of supervisors. The supervisors might not see it until spring, said planning director Albert Lopez.

The draft, in its current form, would allow construction of Solar Energy Facilitites (SEF) for exporting power from Valley agricultural land to the regional power grid on a case-by-case approval.

There would be a cap, yet to be determined, on how much of the county’s 3000 acres of “Important Farmland” could be used. A cap ranging between 500 and 1000 has been discussed.

The policy says that the county will give “highest priority” to the encouragement of urban solar development. Urban solar installations are usually placed on rooftops. They supply electricity to the property on which they are installed. People concerned about saving agricultural land from solar installations said it’s important to cut the electricity demand by encouraging urban solar installations(more)

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