We appreciate Planning Commissioner Dan O’Grady’s concern for aesthetics, but requiring SunPower to bury collection lines for its Carrizo Plain solar project could cause more damage than it’s worth.
The project already has been designed to minimize impacts on the giant kangaroo rat, an endangered species.Requiring the applicant to bury lines in a way that avoids the kangaroo rat’s underground burrows would further complicate and delay a project that has been years in the planning.
And for what? To shield motorists along Highway 58 from some 60-foot-tall utility poles?
This is not a heavily traveled corridor, and even if it were, we don’t agree that solar panels and power poles are some awful blight on the landscape that must be hidden from public view.
Rather, SunPower’s solar ranch has the potential to be a county landmark — a visible sign that we are finally moving toward clean energy.
We see it as a far more beneficial — and yes, attractive — use of the land than some of the mini-storage units, drab warehouses and cookie-cutter developments that have been allowed in other unincorporated areas of the county.
We believe SunPower’s project, as currently configured, balances the need for environmental and aesthetic protections at the Carrizo Plain site with the equally compelling need to dramatically increase production of clean energy.
We strongly urge the county Planning Commission to approve the application today, without adding a burdensome requirement to place collection lines underground.