County board to hear appeal on Panoche solar project

Kim Williams, owner of Your Family Farm on Panoche Road and shown here in 2009 when the idea first arose, has been one of the most outspoken critics of the project.

San Benito County supervisors are set to hear from local opponents of a major solar project perhaps one last time Tuesday.
The county board is set to meet at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the County Administration Building. Supervisors will hear an appeal from opponents of the planning commission’s approval of the Panoche Valley Solar Project.
San Benito County planning commissioners in late April voted 4-0 in support of the supplemental environmental review for PV2’s solar project in Panoche Valley. Opponents spoke at the meeting and contended the supplemental environmental impact review should have gone through the same, stringent steps of a full EIR as done with the original, much larger version of the project. Commissioners disagreed and approved the supplemental document, which is now going back to the board for a final appeal.
The California Public Utilities Commission in March approved a power purchase agreement for the 247-megawatt Panoche Valley solar project. Prior to that, PV2 in August reached a 20-year power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison for the 247 megawatts. The agreement with the Panoche Valley project is over 20 years with an expectation to be online by 2019.
The project still must gain approvals on environmental and engineering reviews from state and federal agencies.
Solargen Energy first proposed the Panoche Valley project in 2009, but when the company encountered financial problems in 2011, PV2 bought the assets for the project.
With the initial proposal, there was talk of building a 1,000-megawatt solar farm on up to 30,000 acres. As recent as late 2013, the project was planned for 339 megawatts.
Project supporters are planning a reception after the 1:30 p.m. hearing set to take place at the Hollister Community Center, 400 West St.
Look back for more.

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