Sunday, April 26, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Tsakopoulos eyes South Davis area farms for solar project

BypassSolarProject

By
March 30, 2011 |

Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos wants to build a 700-acre solar field on prime farmland between South Davis and the Yolo Bypass.

Tsakopoulos is pushing to build an 80-megawatt solar farm over 688 acres on three pieces of land that he owns, which total 1,316 acres. The land lies 1 mile due east of South Davis. Under Tsakopoulos’ plan, solar panels would run to the Yolo Bypass levee, which would separate them from the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.

Tsakopoulos could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but he submitted an application last week to the Yolo County Planning and Public Works Department.

The panels could harness enough electricity to power 25,000 homes, according to a description of the project submitted to the planning department.

Since the land is slated for farming, the developer will have to win approval from the Board of Supervisors, which would consider the project after staff analysis and a recommendation from the Planning Commission. However, officials are already voicing worry about ripping farmland out of production.

“That’s prime ag land. It’s in the heart of some pretty good tomato production,” said county Agriculture Commissioner John Young. “These industrial facilities have no place on prime farmland. It’s no different than trying to put in some kind of industrial plant.”

Not exactly, said Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis. Building solar panels over prime farmland is a tough issue, because it forces the county to choose between two things it values: fostering its No.1 industry, agriculture, and pursuing alternative energy.

However, covering 700 acres of some of the best farmland in the world with solar panels may not be the best way to marry those two goals. What about rockier, less desirable soil? Or pursuing a different alternative energy altogether?

“If you look at giving up some prime farmland, you have to look at what we’re going to give it up for,” Provenza said. “Are we doing it for a business that has a large number of jobs?”

Operating and maintaining the solar farm would create three jobs, according to Tsakopoulos’ application.

Tsakopoulos pitched the project as consistent with grazing cattle, Provenza said. He’s not sure that’s true, but even if it is, grazing is not the “optimal use” of prime farmland. “It’s so much more economically viable to grow tomatoes or other crops,” the supervisor said.

Provenza said he’s keeping an open mind until he gets the details, but he knows “it’s going to be controversial. It will be very closely scrutinized.”

The project could run afoul of a draft law currently working through the county’s planning pipeline. Staff is crafting the ordinance as a way to manage the number of solar panels that “has accelerated greatly over the last couple years,” said David Morrison, assistant director of planning and public works.

If passed by the board as is, the law would restrict all solar projects, from small residential undertakings to industrial-size solar arrays like Tsakopoulos’. It would lay out rules for where the panels would have to stop relative to other properties, how a developer would have to make up for destroying farmland or wildlife habitat, and for justifying why a solar project had to eat up prime farmland instead of something less arable.

Current solar panels last 20 to 25 years, which means a temporary loss of farmland. But solar technology is still pretty new, Morrison added. If the technology accelerates, the panels could keep that land fallow forever.

“We’re losing ag land” just like if someone were to pave it over for a housing tract or turn it into wetlands, Morrison added. “Yolo County has always placed a very high priority on minimizing the loss of ag land wherever possible.”

The ordinance is set to go before the Planning Commission for a fourth time at its April 14 meeting. Then it heads to the board.

If ag commissioner Young had a vote, he probably could cast it now.

“This is about profit,” he told The Enterprise. “What I’m finding here is when the dollar’s driving the decision, the profits really outweigh our principles, and our principles in Yolo County (are) maintaining farmland.

“Industrial solar facilities don’t do that.”

— Reach Jonathan Edwards at [email protected] or (530) 747-8052.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
     
    Davis team wins world robotics championship

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Nepal quake death toll exceeds 1,800

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Spring storm delivers late rain, snow to Northern California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    At the Pond: Plenty of pleasures in our bioregion

    By Jean Jackman | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Pioneering organic chef presents her memoir Monday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Suspect in UCD assault arrested

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4

    Dog park marks anniversary with cleanup

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Rail-safety bill passes Senate committee

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Free Family Bike Clinic set Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Watch them in action

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5

    Stocks rise on tech earnings; Nasdaq adds to record

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

     
    Dodd speaks as part of public policy series

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    $2.72 million judgment ordered against Dollar Tree Stores

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    We did it (together)!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

    UCD hosts bike auction Saturday, May 2

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Fly Fishers to hear about advanced streamer tactics on Tuesday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Bicycle activist will speak Monday at Hall of Fame

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

     
    Study questions accuracy of tumor gene mapping

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Those texts still linger

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B6

     
    New ways of giving locally and beyond

    By Marion Franck | From Page: B6

    Mayor’s Corner: A spirit of renewal permeates Davis

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

     
    More work to do for a safe Picnic Day

    By Our View | From Page: A12

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

     
    Poker proceeds help youths

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Invest in water of the future

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Water, water everywhere?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Anaheim, where The Force is with you

    By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A13 | Gallery

    .

    Sports

    Energy, fan-friendly happenings highlight UCD spring football game

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Blue Devil golfers capture CAL Invitational title

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Davis gets two baseball wins in two days

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1

     
    Grizzlies dominate young Blue Devils on Senior Night

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Aggies reach water polo semifinals

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    Blue Devil swimmers are up to the challenge

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    DHS softball struggles continue against Sheldon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

     
    Babich brings the heat as DHS girls stick it to Oak Ridge

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    History comes alive in ‘The Sacramento Picture’

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    Big Italian food, sports bar to fill Little Prague

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A7

    Davis Roots hires new general manager

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Comcast announces speed upgrade

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Valente Forrest Dolcini

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Whitney Joy Engler

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, April 26, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8