Cal Poly seeking to build 18.5 acre solar farm

July 12, 2016
Cal Poly solatr farm

View from Highway 1, site of proposed solar plant

By John Lindt, Sierra 2 the Sea

Cal Poly is seeking to build a five-megawatt solar farm on their land located on the east side of Highway 1 near the California Men’s Colony.

Plans are for the solar farm, with 1,500 solar modules, to be built and operating within a year, said Joel Neel, Cal Poly director of facilities planning. With the addition of a one megawatt rooftop solar project currently under construction and the solar farm, the university will have enough in-house solar power generation to provide the majority of its power needs, Neel said.

If approved, the 18.5 acre solar farm will be located on Gold Tree Road next to the PG&E substation. The facility will be designed to reduce visibility to motorists passing by on Highway 1.

“We know the facility is located along the scenic corridor as you enter San Luis Obispo, but we think it is fairly inconspicuous,” Neel said.

The university plans to have a private developer build the solar farm, and then sell the power back to the campus. If approved, construction could start in the next few months.

“We are working to have most – if not all our power – come from renewables,” Neel said. “There is still some interest in developing wind power on campus land as well.”

Final approval of the project, based on a mitigated negative declaration, rests with the vice chancellors office.


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27 Comments

  1. truthinscience says:

    The absolute height of ABSURDITY damaging open land. Cal Poly already has MANY acres of readily available land in all of their parking lots that are open to the sky. Follow SLO High School’s inventive lead, covering all Cal Poly parking lots in elevated solar panels, protecting cars from the sun and gaining all of the solar power. A win-win, while preserving valuable green space around Cal Poly and SLO. It’s time to use your smarts by utilizing talented engineers-in-training at Cal Poly. DON’T impact undeveloped land!

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. Jorge Estrada says:

    A University with a Public Works Department, Fire Department, Police Department, Medical Facilities, everything else department and now a proposed Power Company brings a question to mind. Just how much of a separate city can a university be and still be gifted the benefits under the umbrella of a State funded public school?

    (2) 14 Total Votes - 8 up - 6 down
  3. freshair says:

    This is a grand idea, and the location next to Highway 1 will gain recognition for the university as being innovative and supportive of green technology.

    (5) 21 Total Votes - 13 up - 8 down
    • jimmy_me says:

      Let us not forget that this is Cal Poly… Everything move they make is either to promote their image or make a profit (or both).

      (3) 15 Total Votes - 9 up - 6 down
      • Indy thinker says:

        What is the down side of that point? Everything i do is to make profit or promote my image. I work for money to buy stuff and I volunteer to improve my image/feel better about myself. Should i do something to purposely to loss money or downgrade my image?

        (8) 12 Total Votes - 10 up - 2 down
    • smile4thecamera says:

      About the location – everyone seems concerned that it will be seen from pristine Hwy 1, but the location is quite secluded really. And besides, hardly anyone drives slow enough on that stretch of highway to even notice it!

      (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
  4. r0y says:

    Unless my math is off (which it may be):
    A 5 MW Solar power Plant would Generate about 25 MW Hours (25,000 KW Hours) of electricity everyday. The average monthly consumption in California (2014 figures) was 562 kWh (0.562 MWh), which is (keeping math easy, using 30 days/month): 18.73 kWh per day… taking that 25,000 kWh per day generated (while the sun shines optimally) they could “theoretically” power upwards of 1,335 homes… at least while the sun was up.

    I am still saving my banana peels and beer cans while holding out for my Mr. Fusion.

    (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
  5. Perspicacious says:

    I am so sick and tired of solar panels going in everywhere. They are nearly as big a fraud as the human-caused climate change crap. Look at the costs of production and to the environment, both short term and long term…a big, useless, eyesore. The only thing more useless are the wind farms.

    (-21) 45 Total Votes - 12 up - 33 down
  6. SpeakTruth says:

    Why try to hide it from motorists? Solar is cool. I’d rather see it than not see it!

    (-2) 40 Total Votes - 19 up - 21 down
    • TWEEKSBALMER says:

      If it is solar wouldn’t be hot not cool?

      (0) 14 Total Votes - 7 up - 7 down
    • Kaiser Bill says:

      Because Highway 1 has the most spectacular viewsheds in the world of any Highway and we don’t want the SLO stretch to be known for a solar farm eyesore.

      (-2) 16 Total Votes - 7 up - 9 down
    • jimmy_me says:

      Where is that solar farm? Oh, there it is… hiding behind the prison! Great thinking.

      (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
    • r0y says:

      Solar is cool, like trains and buses are cool. They all need massive subsidies to “maybe” have a shot at breaking even, and could never function on their own without a flood of confiscated tax-payer cash being redistributed to them… but they are still cool.

      (1) 25 Total Votes - 13 up - 12 down
      • Francesca Bolognini says:

        The “massive subsidies” would be unlikely to be necessary were it not for the MASSIVE SUBSIDIES that we (the tax payers) fork out to the fossil fuel and nuclear industries in spite of massive record profits. It is hard to compete in a market rigged against you. As a nation, we are desperately in need of moving to less polluting forms of power generation. Nuclear, for all the hype, is actually highly carbon intensive in many phases of operation, from mining on up. Not to mention the radioactive pollution, which, in the case of plutonium, is a forever thing. Breaking the hold and the environmental damage of fossil and nuclear fuels is absolutely necessary. Had we done it 40 or 50 years ago when we should have, it would be a lot cheaper today. Live and learn. But move forward now, we must.

        (2) 14 Total Votes - 8 up - 6 down
  7. Rich in MB says:

    Horrible idea for an eyesore in one of the Counties prettiest drives.

    (-1) 39 Total Votes - 19 up - 20 down
  8. kayaknut says:

    So if it takes 18.5 acres for 5MWe, then to replace Diablo Canyon we will only need around 8,000 acres of solar panels, of course than means we will have to stop using electricity at night……..

    (16) 30 Total Votes - 23 up - 7 down
    • nunsense says:

      Montana De Oro is 12.5 sq miles or about 8000 acres. To replace Diablo, 8500 acres – so completely cover MDO with solar panels – wonderful.

      (16) 22 Total Votes - 19 up - 3 down
      • Francesca Bolognini says:

        I think a better,more practical plan, expanding county wide, is to go with the roof top solar for homes and businesses, just as it is usually promoted by the vendors. Are those areas not already covered? It is tiresome to read all the ridiculous arguments put forth by the guys making the $150,000 + annual salary at Diablo, who are really bummed to have to pull their snouts out of the public trough and look for honest work that does not create a forever problem with toxic waste and the public has to pay the bill. Solar power is an innovation that is very long overdue to an institution that is, by it’s nature, geared to teach individuals to prepare for the future. That they move forward with a clean energy program – that one is a no brainer.

        (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
    • kettle says:

      Don’t be silly kayaknut, plenty of power at night, Pg&E will just charge more, think 50c a Kwh.

      The public’s fear “we will have to stop using electricity at night” and artificial scarcity will keep your bill high and the shareholder profits high. Don’t worry it’s already being planned for.

      (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
  9. SLOnative says:

    On Cal Poly’s Ag land? I thought those who opposed other a new gym or other development would be against this?

    (9) 21 Total Votes - 15 up - 6 down
    • smile4thecamera says:

      There’s not really any ag land way out there. The substation is there and lots of brush, weeds, and a dirt road. Honestly it would be the perfect place for a solar farm. That’s the best thing I’ve heard coming out of Poly in a long time.

      (20) 36 Total Votes - 28 up - 8 down

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