County finalizes solar use on ag land policy
Large, commercial solar projects will not be allowed on farm land that has permanent crops or has a viable supply of water for irrigation, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday.
The issue of commercial solar projects on prime ag land surfaced last year when concerns were raised that solar fields could replace productive ag fields in the future.
In December, the board passed a temporary ordinance prohibiting new solar facility development until the issue of using prime farm land for such facilities was resolved.
On Tuesday, based on a recommendation of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, the board decided that such facilities could not be placed on irrigated prime ag land, they must be in proximity to an electrical grid, and should not be placed where permanent crops, such as oranges, have to be removed.
Michael Spata with the county planning department said the goal of the new regulations “is to keep them (solar fields) off prime farm land.”
No one spoke on the matter and the new regulations were passed unanimously. There was no mention if the temporary ordinance would be lifted. That interim ordinance did not apply to those projects already approved or any that were up for approval.
Ten solar field projects have already been approved in the county with more than a dozen more proposed. Most of those are 15 to 20 year projects with an option to renew the solar field for longer.
In other action:
Ë› Established the spending limit for the county at $3 billion.
Ë› Approved adding a deputy to the South Valley Marijuana Suppression Program.
Ë› Amending the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee Bylaws to allow removal of a member who fails to attend three or more meetings in a calendar year.
Ë› Heard a report that the County’s Solid Waste Enterprise Fund will have a shortfall of $700,000 this year, down from $5 million.