SLO County declared 'economic recovery zone' so solar energy bonds could be issued

The Board of supervisors Tuesday declared itself an "economic recovery zone" in order to speed the issuance of solar energy bonds allowed only in areas in fiscal trouble.

The county administration asked the Board of Supervisors to approve the designation so that the $12 million in bonds can be issued, allowing Sun Edison LLC to build nine solar power projects.

One project would be at Atascadero State Hospital. The others would be for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, at different sites.

Combined, they would create 2,200 kilowatts of solar power, providing half of each site's electricity needs and reducing the carbon impact by 27,000 metric tons over 20 years, according to a staff report from Assistant County Administrator Dan Buckshi.

To move the bonds forward, the county had to declare itself an economic recovery zone.

Such a zone, according to Buckshi, has to have "significant poverty, unemployment, home foreclosure rates or general distress."

"Given the significant increase in home foreclosures and unemployment rates, the county meets these criteria," Buckshi wrote.

Supervisors approved the move without discussion.

-Bob Cuddy