Politics Magazine

Solar Portion of Fremont Valley Project Draws Concerns

Posted on the 24 January 2014 by Jim Winburn @civicbeebuzz

0113_newswire_energy_w100_res72 JAWBONE STATION – During Tuesday’s public outreach at Jawbone Station over a proposed project in the Fremont Valley, water concerns dominated the discussion between county employees and county residents.

Other residents had concerns regarding the solar portion of the Fremont Valley Preservation Project proposed by AquaHelio, LLC.

The project, according to both county staff and AquaHelio consultants, could generate up to 1,008 megawatts of power from photovoltaic solar panels located at different sites in the Fremont Valley.

Dave Morton from A-C Electric, one of the companies helping to take the project from entitlement to construction, said the solar portion of the Fremont Valley Preservation Project would include one of two options, the first being a fixed-tilt system that can handle the 1,008-megawatt capacity.

“They (would) stand at a height of 10 feet, 1 inch off the ground,” Morton said. “The other option would be a tracking system that tilts from east to west and tracks the sun throughout the day.”

The tracking system option would be considered more attractive, as although it would only generate 550 megawatts of power and take more space, it would generate more power throughout the day.

Overall, the project proposes 3.6 million photovoltaic solar panels on four sites the project will encompass.

Morton said that options for transferring the energy include connecting with Los Angeles Department of Power and Water substation at Barren Ridge, or through Southern California Edison Kramer substation.

“We’ve studied many more (transfer) routes than that, but those two are ones we are down to, given the power companies that we are dealing with,” Morton said.

One resident in the audience asked whether AquaHelio has been in contact with LADWP regarding a contract for electricity.

“We have been in contact with them about an interconnection agreement, which is required to connect to a utility system,” Morton said.

Another resident asked whether AquaHelio would be interested in a solar farm if the water elements are removed.

AquaHelio is proposing to bank up to 220,000 acre-feet of water per year in the Fremont Valley water basin and extracting up to 114,000 acre-feet per year from the native groundwater. Kern County is placing mitigations and caps on the water portion should the plan pass muster with the County Board of Supervisors in March.

While Morton responded yes, he also said that he could not answer to AquaHelio’s business plan directly.

Another question concerned the delivery of the power to potential power grids like SCE and LADWP. The proposed tie-in for LADWP’s Barren Ridge facility is a 230-kilovolt transmission line.

SCE’s grid may not be able to accommodate that much electricity at the moment, one audience member said.

Full story by City Editor Jack Barnwell at ridgecrestca.com.

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