Plans for another solar field in Ramona were met with skepticism by the planning group and public at the Ramona Community Planning Group meeting last week.
Residents near the proposed project site voiced concerns about potential affects to views, glare from the panels, and trucks traveling the dirt road that accesses the site, and residents around the Sol Orchard solar field being constructed on Warnock Drive talked about frustrations they've encountered with that similar project.
The solar project is planned for a 16-acre facility along Creelman Lane. The San Diego Gas & Electric representative said the company plans to submit a major use permit to the county in January and that they hope to have the facility operating by late 2015.
RCPG Chair Jim Piva set the tone for the discussion with SDG&E representatives by introducing the presentation as "another solar field in ramona… which will serve 1,000 households, not necessarily in Ramona."
The SDG&E representative said the project is capped at five megawatts of power, and would take up 40 percent of the land that SDG&E owns at that site. The area is zoned for such a project, according to Piva.
The board and public speakers were for the most part resigned to the fact that the new solar field would be constructed, based on the County's approval of Sol Orchard earlier this year in the face of opposition from the RCPG.
"We don't want another Warnock, but it looks like were going to get it," said planner Jim Cooper. "We must help out the neighbors with some mitigation."
The group suggested that paving Creelman Lane would be an appropriate bit of mitigation for the project.
The project fact flier handed out by SDG&E said the project creates local green jobs, a point that planner Donna Myers, who lives near the Sol Orchard project, contested.
"There has been incredible noise, dust, and longer working hours than they said. Nothing that they promised us has happened," said Myers. "Local people have lost the opportunity to have jobs because the fencing was done by company in LA, and it was done improperly, cattle kept getting on the road because they didn't put up the right fencing."
Planner Carl Hickman asked point blank "what benefit is there for Ramona with this project?"
After a pause, the SDG&E representative said "I don't know. There's obviously is a societal benefit… we are told by state we have to do this, and we try to balance with the needs of community we serve."
SDG&E has been tasked by state government to obtain 33 percent of the energy they sell from renewable sources by 2020.
Many members of the group were vocal about their frustrations in dealing with the Sol Orchard solar field, feeling that their advice wasn't acted on by the County and the same will happen with this project.
"If the county doesn't give manure about what we say, why are we wasting this time on this project at all besides trying to get a road paved? Obviously these projects are useless for our board to deal with," said planner Matt Deskovick.
The public can contact Regional Public Affairs Manager Ian K. Stewart at IStewart@semprautilities.com about the project.