One less solar farm for Tulare County
Company pulls plan for project on Gibbons Avenue
ImModo Solar has withdrawn its proposal to construct a 5-megawatt solar power plant in southeast Porterville.
The Spanish-owned renewable energy firm, which plans to build a dozen other small-scale solar plants in Tulare County within the next year, pulled its proposal last week. The withdrawal was formally accepted by the Tulare County Planning Commission on Wednesday, during the commission’s first meeting of the year.
On Dec. 12, the commission conducted a public hearing on the matter. At that meeting, Jerry Evans, son of Juanita Baldo, told commissioners that if the project was approved as proposed, it would wipe out a nearby water well used to irrigate two acres of orange trees on his mother’s property, located at 273 W. Gibbons Ave.
Evans said that the two acres yielded anywhere from $3,500 to $4,000 annually — an income his mother depends on. He also said that the project applicants did not have legal access to the property and noted that blight on the property was also of concern. He said his mother was willing to negotiate the loss of income.
At the Dec. 12 meeting, Don Watson, vice president of ImModo Solar, said his firm was not aware of any access issues with the property. He also said the company wanted to keep the well productive and would contact neighbors in the area to determine whether they found a productive use for it.
Scott Cochran, planner with the Tulare County Project Review Division, said ImModo’s withdrawal was “real-estate related”.
“Things weren’t working out with purchasing the property and what they had to do with that purchase,” he said Wednesday.
Evans said in an email Thursday that he called Watson on Jan. 2 to open discussion.
“He immediately indicated that they were withdrawing from the project, that they had ‘other options,’” he wrote. “We wished each other ‘good luck.’”
Cochran said Wednesday that one less solar plant in Tulare County is not a significant loss.
“It’s a 5-megawatt project; I have one that’s 80 and going through an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) process so, there’s a dozen in the pipeline now,” Cochran said.
One commissioner on Wednesday said Tulare County is close to being maxed out on solar farms because PG&E and Southern California Edison are nearing capacity.
“They’re getting close and that window these solar projects are in will close,” he said.
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, Ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.