Second Solar Field Under Consideration In Joshua Tree

A second solar energy field is being considered for development near Joshua Tree.
On December 8, the county planning commission approved a conditional use permit for Axio Power’s Cascade Solar Park, an 18.5 megawatt photovoltaic generation facility to be constructed in two phases on 150 acres west of Coyote Dry Lake straddling Broadway Street in the community of Sunfair east of downtown Joshua Tree north of Twentynine Palms Highway on the east side of Lawrence Avenue west of Cascade extending between Fourth Street on the south and Sunflower Road on the north.
According to deputy county planner Loretta Mathieu, a conditional use permit for the project was required because zoning on the nine parcels formerly owned by seven owners upon which the project is to be developed is either rural living or resource conservation.
The 12-to-15-foot-high panels will be installed on poles and be capable of pivoting to track the sun. The electricity, capable of meeting the needs of as many as 7,000 households, will be conveyed to existing power lines near the site using wooden utility poles and will be sold to Southern California Edison.
Broadway Street, Sunflower Road, Cascade and 4th street will all remain open to traffic going to the dry lake.
According to Mathieu, BP Solar is intent on creating a second solar field to accompany Axio Power’s. That solar photovoltaic power project will produce slightly more power – 20 megawatts – on property near Joshua Tree bordered by Two Mile Road on the north, Hollinger on the west, Sunfair Road on the east, and Pipeline Road on the south.
BP Solar, a division of British Petroleum, has not pulled permits for the project, but according to Mathieu, “The county had a preliminary meeting with BP Solar. I don’t know if that is British Petroleum or not; it might be. The project they were inquiring about appeared to be north of 29 Palms Highway extending between Sunfair Road on the east and Sunever Road on the west and Pipeline Road through the center of the project. There is a portion of the project up to Two Mile Road. They were talking about 120 acres at the time they first brought the subject up about a year ago. That was a pre-application meeting and to date no formal submittal has been made. The project would require a conditional use permit. We did not do a thorough review of the property itself. This was only a preliminary discussion.”
Two retirees, Bill and Jane Bertoldi, who own 20 acres adjacent to the proposed project, met with BP Solar Energy representatives, according to Radio Station Z107.7. BP wants to up the project size to 160 acres, according to one report, and has offered to buy the Bertoldis’ property. The Bertoldis, who have a custom-built home there, are opposed to the proposal and wish to live out their retirement where they are.
BP has initiated biological surveys on the subject property where the company intends to erect at least 100,000 solar panels, which are to be surrounded by a ten-foot high chain-link fence.

Leave a Reply