Planning Commission to get first look at SunPower plans

The county Planning Commission will hold a study session Thursday on the first of two large, utility-scale solar plants proposed for the Carrizo Plain.

SunPower Corp. of San Jose has proposed building a 250-megawatt photovoltaic plant on 3.1 square miles south of Highway 58 and east of Soda Lake Road near the Kern County line.

The project also includes a 23-acre aggregate surface mine and installation of nearly three miles of connecting transmission lines.

The meeting is a study session and no action will be taken, said John McKenzie, county planner for the project. Instead, the meeting is an opportunity to familiarize commissioners with the project.

A hearing, when action could be taken, is scheduled for Jan. 27. A second could be held Feb. 3.

The county has issued a draft environmental impact report that recommends the project be scaled back to approximately 175 megawatts in order to minimize its biological and aesthetic impacts.

In response, SunPower has proposed reconfiguring the arrays of solar panels in an effort to minimize those impacts and keep the electrical output at 250 megawatts.

The study session is the last of three items on the agenda and is expected to take place in the afternoon. McKenzie said.

The meeting will take place in the county Board of Supervisors chambers at the County Government Center in San Luis Obispo.

A separate 550-megawatt solar project is also proposed for the Carrizo Plain and is in the permitting process.