FAIRFIELD — Solano County could extend a ban on new commercial solar and wind energy projects for another 10 months with the stated goals of protecting Travis Air Force Base and farming.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 5 passed an urgency law, putting the ban in place for 45 days, the longest term possible at the time. The board expressed a desire to keep extending the ban until the county completes land use studies over the coming two years.
Supervisors will decide whether to hold the course when they meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the county Government Center, 675 Texas St. They’ll also decide if the extension should have a new wrinkle – a ban on new wireless communication towers more than 200 feet tall.
Solano County already has hundreds of energy-generating wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills between Suisun City and Rio Vista. There has been talk of building still more turbines, as well as solar farms near Travis Air Force Base on Ryer Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
But Travis Air Force Base last spring opened an assault landing strip for C-17 planes. It now has low-flying planes doing drills east of the base. Base officials have expressed concern about the prospect of 400-foot-tall wind turbines being built in this area.
In addition, base officials have raised concerns about glare from large commercial solar wind farms. There are also ongoing concerns about wind turbines affecting base radar.
Finally, county officials and farmers have expressed concern about losing prime farmland to solar arrays.
Solano County plans to update its laws to address these situations. This includes updating the county’s Travis Air Force Base Land Use Compatibility Plan over the coming two years.
All of this prompted the board on Nov. 5 to put the 45-day ban in place. It did so by unanimous vote, despite the objections of some renewable energy companies.
“This is really about a timeout,” Supervisor John Vasquez said at the time.
The county is creating a greenbelt with a working landscape near Travis, just as there are greenbelts around the cities, Vasquez said. This is about defense and about feeding the nation, he said.
“Really at the end of day, I don’t care what anybody says, there’s no compromise,” Vasquez said. “The only compromise is we protect Travis, whatever it takes to do it.”
Supervisors rejected the request by some renewable energy developers to forgo a ban and look at proposed projects on a case-by-case basis.
“This is not something that we should be looking at piecemeal,” Supervisor Linda Seifert said. “This is a strategy that we need to look at responsibly, about how we approach these issues in the future.”
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.