Farm Bureau seeks hold on solar projects
With 14 large solar projects pending in Tulare County, the Tulare County Farm Bureau has asked the county Board of Supervisors to “clearly define their policy as it relates to prime farm land.”
The issue is before the board today when it meets at the County Government Center in Visalia.
In a letter dated Sept. 10, Patricia Stever Blattler, executive director of the Farm Bureau, states that the farm organization that works to preserve farm land wants the county to develop a policy regarding the placement of solar fields on prime farm land. Prime farm land is that which can sustain almost any crop.
A staff report indicates there are 14 pending large solar projects in the county comprising 154 megawatts on 1,143 acres. Of those 14 projects, six are planned on Williamson Act contracted land and of those, three are on prime agricultural land contracts and three are open space dry-gazing land contracts. Several of those projects are in the Ducor area, with several more in the Alpaugh area. Both are close to existing high voltage electric transmission lines.
The county has approved 10 utility-scale solar facilities on ag zoned lands covering 1,799 acres.
The staff report indicates the 24 projects are expected to “generate both one-time sales and use tax, permit fees and building permit fees totally $12.7 million.
In her letter, Blattler said the county needs to protect farm land, especially prime land, and that the county place solar easements on some projects/
“We believe that solar energy projects located on private agriculturally productive lands should be subordinate to the agricultural operation and should not permanently impede or educe the productive agricultural capacity of the land for future uses,” wrote Blattler asking that each project have a condition that once the solar field is not longer utilized, the land be restored to its agricultural state.
The board adopted a policy for solar projects on ag land in 2010 and county staff is asking the board if its wants to revisit the issue.
In other business:
Ë› Will consider eliminating furlough, restore vacation accrual rate and uniform allowance for the Profession Law Enforcement manager’s Association.
Ë› Get an update on efforts to increase public access to broadband and high speed internet.
The board meeting begins at 9 a.m. today.