Diablo Grande owner considers solar farm
by Kendall Septon | Patterson Irrigator
Dec 16, 2010 | 3445 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This Diablo Grande land off Mountain Road could eventually be home to a solar farm called Copper Mountain. --photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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The corporation that added the hillside development of Diablo Grande to its holdings more than two years ago may now grow its empire to include sun-powered energy.

World International LLC — the Mexico-based real estate management and development company that owns Diablo Grande, among other U.S. and Mexican properties — applied to the county last month to build and operate a 13-megawatt solar farm.

Its proposed Copper Mountain Solar farm would stand on about 124 acres of the 30,000 acres of land within Diablo Grande’s boundaries. When built, Copper Mountain could generate enough energy to power an estimated 13,000 homes.

Company representatives were reluctant to comment on specific details of the project, as they said too many aspects that could determine its viability were still pending.

“While still in early stages of determining the project’s viability, World International is excited about exploring options for bringing renewable energy to the area,” said Frederique Szita, a spokeswoman for Laurus Corp., the company World chose to manage Diablo Grande. “Not only is Diablo Grande already one of the community’s largest employers, but the possibility of furthering a ‘green’ community is one that we are proud to engage in.”

Though a precise place for the Copper Mountain Solar equipment has yet to be determined, county documents show it would likely be west of the guard shack on Diablo Grande Parkway and north of the developing community.

Energy collected by the farm’s panels could also be transferred to the electrical grid by using the Turlock Irrigation District transmission lines that already serve Diablo Grande, according to county documents.

Though the solar farm proposal has not yet made its way across his desk, Supervisor Jim DeMartini said he would not be surprised if the venture were an attempt by World to get into the growing market of selling renewable energy to utility companies, as others in the county are already trying to do.

In 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order demanding that utility companies get at least 33 percent of their electricity from solar, wind and other renewable sources by 2020.

“A few of these solar farm projects have been cropping up because power companies are required to buy a certain amount of renewable energy,” DeMartini said. “Getting that rock-solid contract is what seems to hold everybody up, though.”

Several other solar energy endeavors also are slated to seek county approvals, DeMartini said.

Those include one proposed by the county itself, which has explored the possibility of leasing 1,600 acres next to the Fink Road Landfill for a solar farm.

A proposal for a 50-megawatt solar farm on 382 acres west of Interstate 5 and Davis Road near Crows Landing will go before the board of supervisors after the county planning commission gave its approval in early November.

Contact Kendall Septon at 892-6187 or kendall@pattersonirrigator.com.

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