County approves Carrizo Plain solar project

April 20, 2011

San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a 250-megawatt solar project on the Carrizo Plain.

After the Planning Commission approved SunPower’s project in February, a resident and three environmental groups appealed the decision. The board denied the appeals which were based on protecting endangered species and the Carrizo Plains.

Earlier this week, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the offer of a conditional commitment for a $1.187 billion loan guarantee to support the project.

“The efficiencies created by the California Valley Solar Ranch project will help lower the cost of solar power and encourage more utility-scale solar deployment,” Chu said.

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SpeakTruth – there are those of us who are not interested in replacing all dirty power with “clean” power, we would rather people reduce their use of power. You are putting forward a straw man argument, that perhaps describes a certain number of people, but those people aren’t really worth engaging in discussion with.

We need to do both. A reduction in consumption will only go so far. We need to start developing alternatives so we can end our dependence on oil, coal and nukes. Why on earth do you want to stay dependent on dirty power? Just that sentence that you want to be dependent on dirty power really seems backwards (that’s the most polite way that I can phrase that). You don’t want to engage because you can’t, your reasoning is senseless. You couldn’t possibly have a rational explanation.

I realize my wording was not really reflective of my opinion, so let me expand a little. I agree we need to develop alternatives. But, based on my personal research (your mileage may vary) it seems that LOCAL systems are more effective… like solar panels on homes, on-site generators so that energy doesn’t diminish travelling over the grid, windmills where it is efficient, etc… These also have less of an environmental impact on open areas. I do not wish to see the transition stifled by large energy companies attempting to control the transition in order to maintain their profits by selling us energy from huge wind and solar farms.

That still doesn’t strike me as a particularly good argument AGAINST the Carrizo solar farm. I fail to see how the presence of this facility will prevent small-scale solar and wind development. If anything, it ought to dive costs down for the little guy by making PV solar panels less expensive.

And, it’s not like that transmission line that it’s right next to is being used much. After all, the natural gas plant (which is NOT a combined cycle plant) in Morro Bay is currently being used at, what… 5% capacity factor?

Mkanny, you bring up some good points. But I do believe that we can and need to do both large scale plants such as Carrizo and independent energy ie home panels and windmills. Right now though people can’t afford to put solar on their homes so we need to do something else. I feel that instead of bailing out the big banks that we should have used that money as well as initiate an added tax on oil companies to help homeowners acquire individual solar power.

BTW that’s why I put “clean” in quotes… because I don’t see this as clean power either.

I’ve got a great reason to favor dirty power: It’s cheaper, at least upfront. We’ve got plenty of coal, so fuel is cheap too. Coal plants are pretty cheap upfront compared to an equivalently scaled nuclear, or combined cycle gas plant so long as you don’t care what you send up the stack. Of course, we all will pay the price in methylmurcury contamination and other problems, but those are someone else’s problem.

Now, if we only we didn’t have folks like the San Luis Obispo Mothers for More Wars for Oil Peace immediately condemning all things nuclear. If the anti-nuclear activists were a bit more reasonable, we’d have molten-salt thorium reactors that can’t build bombs or suffer damage from decay heat or have criticality accidents and don’t leave behind long-lived waste. With electricity cheap and plentiful enough, ideas like manufactureing synthetic fuels from agricultural waste and municipal garbage start to make sense. I’d rather use a lot more electrical power to replace our motor fuels, kicking the foreign oil habit for good and hopefully reducing our tailpipe emissions.

I am all for research on thorium reactors, but the fact is that the technology does not exist in a usable form today. Otherwise, I have no interest in nuclear power, because when there is a problem, that problem cannot be contained to a small area.

The world is going to end if we don’t use clean energy!

Wait… You want to put a solar energy plant in my back yard? No way!

Does anyone else see the hypocrisy here?

SLO County Board of Supervisors, I’m proud of you! Thank you for making a decision that is good for the environment, good for the economy, and that respects the rights of property owners.


I agree with you on one important thing. Assuming that the land is private, and they didn’t purchase it via subsidies, then they did good respecting the rights of the property owners