Victorville Landfill To Host Ten Megawatt 58-Acre Solar Generating Facility

SAN BERNARDINO—(January 22) The county planning commission this week approved the establishment of a 10-megawatt solar farm at the Victorville Landfill.
The panel, which is one member short, granted the applicant, SunEdison and its representative, Jeremy Krout of EPD Solutions, permission to proceed with what was described as an “interim” solar photovoltaic generating facility. The facility is to cover 57.6 acres within the 90-acre third expansion phase of the 491-acre landfill.
According to a report on the project prepared by county land use division employee Tracy Creason, the terrain upon which the facility will be located consists of rolling hills and desert washes which slope from the northwest to the southeast with an elevation change of approximately 120 feet, over a distance of approximately a half mile. Vegetation on the property currently consists of Mojave creosote bush scrub and bursage scrub with a smattering of Joshua trees.
While proposed solar energy projects in other areas of the county have been opposed by environmentalists and nearby residents and in some cases halted, this project met with little resistance.
According to Creason, “The proposed commercial solar energy generation facility is either (a) sufficiently separated from existing communities and existing/developing rural residential areas so as to avoid adverse effects, or (b) of a sufficiently small size, provided with adequate setbacks, designed to be lower profile than otherwise permitted and sufficiently screened from public view so as to not adversely affect the desirability and future development of communities, neighborhoods, and rural residential use. Proposed fencing, walls, landscaping and other perimeter features of the solar energy generation facility will minimize the visual impact of the project so as to blend with and be subordinate to the environment and character of the area where the facility is to be located. The siting and design of the proposed commercial solar energy generation facility will either be: (a) unobtrusive and not detract from the natural features, open space and visual qualities of the area as viewed from communities, rural residential uses, and major roadways and highways or (b) located in such proximity to already ‘disturbed’ lands — such as electrical substations, surface mining operations, landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, etc. that it will not further detract from the natural features, open space and visual qualities of the area as viewed from communities, rural residential uses, and major roadways and highways. The siting and design of project site access and maintenance roads have been incorporated in the visual analysis for the project and shall minimize visibility from public view points while providing needed access to the development site.”
In addition, Creason stated, “The proposed commercial solar energy generation facility will not adversely affect to a significant degree the availability of groundwater supplies for existing communities and existing and developing rural residential areas.”
In the cases of other proposed solar projects that were denied approval, opponents often latched onto the degradation of the habitat of the desert tortoise those projects represented. In the case of the one to go in at the Victorville landfill, Creason said, “The solar energy generation facility will be sited so as to avoid or minimize impacts to the habitat of special status species, including threatened, endangered, or rare species, critical habitat areas as designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
Creason also stated that the project “is located in proximity to existing electrical infrastructure such as transmission lines utility corridors and roads such that: (a) minimal ground disturbance and above ground infrastructure will be required to connect to the existing transmission grid, (b) new electrical generation tie lines have been co-located on existing power poles whenever possible, and (c) existing rights-of-way and designated utility corridors will be utilized to the extent practicable.”
The project required and the commission granted a major variance because grades exceed 5 percent.
The city of Victorville did not oppose the project.

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