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Tuesday, Jun 18 2013 12:00 AM

Bear Valley planning for solar to power water pumps

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The proposed solar system to power the Bear Valley water pumps at the booster station would be located in the area of the pump station on the left and the booster station/water tank in the center on the photo. Photo by Ed Gordon/Tehachapi News.

A plan to develop solar power for water pumps that serve Bear Valley Springs is under consideration by the Bear Valley Community Services District.

At a special meeting on May 14, members of the Board of Directors heard a presentation from Mike Whatley of SunPower regarding a proposal for a 930 kW-dc, 25 degree fixed-tilt solar Photo Voltaic electric generation system on approximately five acres of district-owned land north of Cummings Valley Road and east of Bailey Road and adjacent to the Cumming Valley Booster Station.

At a second special board meeting on May 16, the board approved moving forward with implementing parts of the project needed to be accomplished to ensure feasibility of any type of solar project on this property.

It was determined that the project will need to meet guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act and that a geotechnical report must be prepared for the site along with a California Solar Initiative application for the site. That application must include payment of a $20,000 deposit.

On June 11 at the district's Infrastructure Committee meeting, Superintendent of Public Works Larry Tuma reported that after receiving the geotechnical report it had been decided that the project would be expanded to cover 10 acres rather than the original five. Tuma also reported he had contacted Lorelei Oviatt Director of the Kern County Planning and Development and planned a sit down with her to assure everything is being done in accordance with county requirements.

He said a Request for Proposal has not yet gone out to Solar City and SunPower, but could be sent out now that the district has the specifications.

Tuma indicated that a check has to be made at county planning to determine if the land is considered prime farm land which will require a trip to the planning office to review the maps. It was noted that Bear Valley currently leases the property to a sod farmer and he has a crop there. At the time of the meeting it was not known the exact extent of the lease.

The last time a solar project was proposed for the Cummings Valley, opposition by Tehachapi First and the Cummings Valley Protective Association resulted in the developer, Recurrent Energy, withdrawing plans.

Tuma said he plans to meet with Tehachapi First and the CVPA to see what concerns those organizations may have.

Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Mason passed out information regarding tracking vs fixed solar systems and cost reports from the California Energy Commission along with a New York Times article concerning defective panels from China.

Tuma will continue to research the project and report back to the committee and the board. Photo by Ed Gordon/Tehachapi News

The proposed solar system to power the Bear Valley water pumps at the booster station would be located in the area of the pump station on the left and the booster station/water tank in the center on the photo.

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