I would like to thank Supervisor Wagenknecht and Planning Commissioner Whitmer for the detailed description in their recent Letter to the Editor, “Explaining what MCE is all about” (Sept. 20).
Most would concur that “Astute use of renewable energy will be a significant resource in meeting our climate action goals and powering our communities with clean energy.” (Wagenknecht/Whitmer). Non-commercial solar production, for local businesses and private residences, is widely accepted as a reasonable alternative to traditional forms of energy production.
“The recent public interest and controversy about a proposed solar field has reminded us that we as a community must come together to make choices that are good for the environment, good for our quality of life and good for our economy.” (Wagenknecht/Whitmer).
The wider Napa County public should know there are very few supporters of the Palm Drive Solar Project to which they refer. We will not simply “come together” with the private developer, Renewable Properties, LLC and the single property owner, both of whom stand to gain financially from this project’s approval. At the recent community meeting, with over a 120 people in attendance, there were fewer than a handful of supporters. The Napa Valley Register front-page headline read “Neighbors blast solar proposal.”
This project will have a significant and permanent negative impact on the aesthetic, economic, and environmental qualities of Napa County. The removal of 3.5 hillside acres of mature blue oaks for non-agricultural, private financial gain and the deplorable impact on the viewshed impinge on the quality of life for the neighborhood and potentially the entire region.
The proposed Coombsville project would set a precedent for similar developments on non-cultivatable land for the entire county. There is nothing about this site location that is “good for our environment, good for our quality of life, and good for our economy”.
I was pleased to read “MCE is not involved in finding and developing sites for projects, but is always interested in supporting local renewables if the project is approved by the community and it meets their requirements.” (Wagenknecht/Whitmer).
The community of Coombsville, and much of Napa County, is not going to support the placement of 11.5 acres of rotating solar panels on north-facing land zoned for agricultural and watershed (AW). This project most certainly does not meet the community’s “requirements.”
While similar to a public utility, this project is, in fact, a privately-run manufacturing facility that transforms sunlight into electricity. It is incompatible with the agricultural watershed zoning and our community’s serious need to preserve mature trees. Renewable Properties proposed project is the antithesis to the pastoral and rural nature of our neighborhood.
We, as a community, want to make it very clear to our government officials and the developer that, under no circumstances, will we accept this project. It has been proposed against our collective will and would alter many lives in a permanent and drastic manner.
“Especially now, with the county redrafting its Climate Action Plan this could be an excellent time to explore strategies for well-considered development of local renewable energy generation. For example, creation of renewable energy zones to identify the best and most appropriate locations for solar in advance of any particular project.” (Wagenknecht/Whitmer).
With no ordinance yet in place for a project of this magnitude, this project is proposed to the detriment of many residents and our agricultural land itself. We encourage the county, as it redrafts the Climate Action Plan, to initiate and develop solar power that is generated on site and remains within our region. County-owned rooftops, parking lots, and the Napa County Airport are just a few examples of the many suitable sites for solar panels in which the county government could take the lead.
It is our elected and appointed officials, rather than private individuals, corporations, and developers, who should be accountable for creating these “well-considered strategies” with substantial input from citizens.
The Agricultural Preservation and Land Use Element of the Napa County General Plan states:
“Well into the future, Napa County will be a place where agriculture is the primary land use, and where a vast majority of the county is open space, and where residential and employment growth is concentrated in the incorporated cities and town and existing urbanized areas of the county. Urban centers will be livable communities with compact forms that maximize the preservation of rural landscapes, and those rural landscapes will be both productive and ecologically diverse, with abundant and healthy natural resources.”
The Renewable Properties solar “farm” proposal is inconsistent with the General Plan and should be denied for that reason and far more. (Submitted on behalf of Residents for Smart Planning. No on Palm Drive Solar.)