To: Dianne Jacob, Supervisor, Greg Cox, Supervisor, Dave Roberts, Supervisor, Ron Roberts, Supervisor, Ashley Gungle, PDS Project Manager, Robert Hingtgen, Environmental Coordinator, and Bill Horn, Supervisor
Save San Diego County's Aquifers and Wildlife!
To: The Honorable San Diego County Supervisors and San Diego County PDS Soitec Project leaders
Please vote “NO PROJECT” to the proposed East County Soitec Solar Project. The “No Project alternative” Is the only recommendation possible at this time. Project size, severe environmental impacts, experimental nature of the CPV product, major impacts to water aquifers; the rushed broad-brush nature of the more important EIR parts makes this the only alternative possible at this time.
Your choice to use the “Fast Track” method, requested in the 03/05/2012 Soitec letter to Chairman Roberts has resulted in an EIR containing many factual errors and omissions as will be reflected in the EIR citizen comments. The project and its EIR must be reworked, reanalyzed using normal non fast track processes.
Our San Diego environment is far more important than the profits or cash flow of the French Soitec Company and the project’s absentee landowners. Support solar in urban environments where power is used and on reclaimed/contaminated lands – not on wetlands, in wildlife habitat, along scenic highways or in communities valued for their rural character.
Why is this important?
On January 2, 2014 The County of San Diego released an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) covering a massive industrial solar (CPV tracker technology) project destined for the Boulevard area of the County. 7,500 of these trackers are proposed at four sites covering 1500 acres; three of the sites border Scenic designated Interstate 8 and Historic Old Highway 80. Each of the Soitec trackers is 30 feet high and fifty feet wide. Despite being promoted as green, the project would be an “environmental catastrophe” on many levels as follows:
• Unprecedented size and density of massive trackers will industrialize this scenic rurual area lining Old Highway 80, a state designated scenic highway and the entry to McCain Valley, a federal public recreation area. Bulldozing will destroy sensitive plants and wetlands, meadows, wildlife habitat and scenic views.
• French developer Soitec and San Diego County are betting on 7,500 unproven CPV units, not yet commercially operational for any significant period at any other U.S. site. This fast- tracked project is due to start this year and doesn’t allow time for a careful environmental impact study.
• Millions, perhaps even a billion gallons of water will be needed to construct this project and more water will be pumped to constantly clean and rinse these trackers. This heavy water use threatens to drain our aquifers—our sole sources of drinking water--all the way to Borrego Valley and turn much of the San Diego high back country into a desert. It’s outrageous to risk having residents’ wells run dry or water sources for wildlife dry up, given that we’re in the worst drought in California history and our Governor has declared a drought emergency. We should conserve our precious water resources.
• Lack of water will impoverish people and devastate abundant wildlife including “endangered” Peninsular Bighorn Sheep, Golden Eagles, Borrego Pupfish and others that are “Species of Special Concern.” Deer, bobcat and mountain lions are also found in this area.
• Glare will invade the land and create safety hazards and ruin vistas on I-8 and Old 80. These massive glaring panels are proposed just 100 feet from homes, some surrounded on two, three or even four sides. In the Mojave Desert community of Newbury Springs, Supervisors passed a moratorium to protect residents from glare due to impacts of large solar projects there. It’s wrong to force residents who value rural tranquility to be thrust into the middle of an industrial energy zone.
• A project isn’t “green” if it endangers wildlife, destroys ecosystems and rural communities’ character. Solar panels belong in the urban environment where power is used – on rooftops and parking lots, or on reclaimed sites such as former landfills – not on wild and scenic lands that must be bulldozed to industrialize rural America. Our town is a canary in a coal mine – County Supervisors gutted our community plan over the objections of our planning group and residents—and the Soitec project is just one of several Goliath-scale energy projects proposed to decimate our wild and scenic places.