The Alameda County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a 350-acre solar farm on agricultural land north of Livermore, California. This will be the Bay Area’s largest solar farm to date, once it’s built.
Big new Bay Area solar farm
The Aramis Renewable Energy Project is Intersect Power’s 100-megawatt solar farm that will feature around 300,000 solar panels. Construction could start in mid-2022 and operations could begin by mid-2023. It would power up to 25,000 homes and offset 188,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
The Mercury News reports:
Intersect Power plans to continue some agricultural practices of the area. That would include beekeeping, which aims to produce some 5,000 pounds of honey per year, a chicken flock to produce about 70,000 eggs per year, and sheep grazing during parts of the year.
The company also will dedicate an easement of the property for a public hiking trail, likely to be managed by either the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District or the East Bay Regional Parks District.
This project has had its supporters and detractors, and the camps were pretty evenly split. The Sierra Club supported it because the solar farm would help to bring California closer to its goal of using 50% clean energy sources by 2030 and 100% by 2045. Workers’ unions said the project would bring 400 living-wage, union jobs to the East Bay.
On the other hand, Friends of Vineyard and Open Space, which advocates for “open spaces and agricultural lands and the sustainability of its wine industry,” opposed it, along with Friends of Livermore and Save North Livermore Valley. The three groups contend that the solar farm [via Mercury News]:
[W]ould tarnish the scenic character of rural north Livermore and conflict with requirements of Measure D, which county voters approved in 2000.
Measure D aims to prevent development from sprawling to eastern Alameda County by protecting agriculture, open space, and wildlife. In three separate appeals of a zoning board’s November approval of the solar farm, opponents argued that industrial solar operations aren’t compatible with agriculture and Measure D mandates that any proposed changes to land use must be OK’d by residents.
Those three groups intend to file a lawsuit against the solar farm approval.
You know what ruins open spaces, agricultural lands, “scenic beauty,” and the wine industry’s beautiful vineyards? Climate change. Smog. Pollution. Particulate matter. Wildfires.
In the short term, Alameda County residents might enjoy their solar-panel-free view (and, in my opinioin, they’re not unsightly – they look like “hope” and “clean air” to me, and the land is usually usable around them).
But in the long term, that view will be lost forever without renewables. So the opposition groups’ objections are short-sighted. As Sierra Club expressed, every little bit of green energy is going to help everyone – and that includes the California wine industry, who will lose their vineyards to climate change if we don’t act.
I’d choose solar panels – and wine – over billowing black fossil fuel smoke every time.
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