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 Post subject: Enviros, Growers Agree On Farmland Reuse For Solar
PostPosted: Tue 23. Mar 2010, 17:26 
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Enviros, Growers Agree On Farmland Reuse For Solar
JASON DEAREN and TRACIE CONE - Washington Post

Here's a second piece of good news, in positive trends.

LEMOORE, Calif. -- Cash-strapped farmers in California's agricultural heartland and environmentalists at odds over water rights and wildlife protections finally agree on something: that thousands of acres of cracked, salty farmland is the perfect site for a sprawling utility-scale solar farm.

The 47 square-miles of land proposed for the Westlands Solar Park in remote Kings and Fresno counties is just one of dozens of unfinished solar projects in California, but renewable energy analysts say it is a rare one that enjoys the broad support of environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, powerful agriculture interests and state government.

Thousands of solar panels would be located on and near the salty-white, fallowed farm land, most of which is owned by the Westlands Water District, the largest such district in the country comprised of 600,000 acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland.

Once completed, the first chunk of solar proposed for the site - the total size of which is roughly that of San Francisco - could generate up to 1 gigawatt of power, or enough to energize up to one million homes.

"I think a better fit (for the land) is farming, but we have what we have and you go from there," Westlands spokesman Sarah Woolf said.

The embrace of solar power as a new cash crop comes at a time when the district is struggling with mounting debt.

A decade ago, Westlands floated a bond to buy 100,000 acres of farm land where poor drainage had created a salt buildup called selenium, making the land unusable for growers. But with the salty land came water rights, so Westlands bought it so it could divert the water allocations to more productive farms.

Since then, drought and environmental issues have cut revenue to Westlands by reducing the amount of water it can sell to members, who range from corporate giant Harris Farms to family farming operations. Over the past two years, Westlands has tripled farmers' assessments to repay bonds when they can least afford it.

Westlands now sees solar power as a way to put the land back to work.

"(Solar is) a natural fit, it works," Woolf said. "But the underlying motivation is we need to figure out a way to repay the debt."

Now, with Mojave Desert solar projects shrinking in number because of recent proposed legislation by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would create two new national monuments there, Woolf said the valley has become "the prime location for solar."

The district has said it is also open to other types of energy development, including nuclear.


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 Post subject: Re: Enviros, Growers Agree On Farmland Reuse For Solar
PostPosted: Thu 8. Sep 2011, 20:06 
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Joined: Tue 27. Oct 2009, 18:19
Posts: 5
I remain to be convinced that there are not better uses for land that just to disappear under a bunch of solar electricty panels - or whether the people responsible for destrying this salted farmleand shouldn'tbe made to restore it to something more useful. -

There is so much dead space in our cities that could be used to generate solar electricity right where the energy is needed - ie on roof tops.

ap :|


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