Cuyama Solar Array Project
[Information up to date as of 11/08/2017]
First Solar is completing the Cuyama Solar Array project and plans to begin producing energy on January 1, 2018. The Cuyama Solar facility has an agreement with Peninsula Clean Energy, a Community Choice Energy provider for San Mateo County, to deliver energy from January 2018 through December 2018. Then in January 2019 Cuyama Solar will begin providing energy deliveries through its 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric.
Aerial view of Cuyama Solar Array
The Proposed Project has three components: (1) regulatory amendments to the County’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Development Code, (2) discretionary permit approvals for the Solar Facility, and (3) additions to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) Cuyama Substation.
- The Proposed Project requires approval of amendments to the County’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Development Code (referenced hereafter as the CP/LUDC Amendments). There are two CP/LUDC Amendments required for the approval of the Proposed Project:
- Amend the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Element to conditionally allow for Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaic (PV) facilities within Rural Area of the Cuyama Valley Rural Region, excluding Existing Rural Developed Neighborhoods (EDRN), on up to 600 acres of land designated Agriculture II (A-II) or Agricultural Commercial (AC) and zoned Agricultural II (AG-II), subject to discretionary approval of a Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Facility Overlay.
- Amend the LUDC, to allow for Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaic facilities in the AG-II zone, in the Rural Area of the Cuyama Valley Rural Region, subject to discretionary approval of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP).
The Proposed Project includes construction and operation of the proposed Cuyama Solar Facility: a 40 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) solar array on approximately 327 acres (referenced hereafter as the Solar Array); an approximately 3-mile 70-kilovolt (kV) generation tie-line (referenced hereafter as the Gen Tie-Line); and an approximately 19,600-sf Switchyard, located near the PG&E Cuyama Substation. This entire component will be referenced as the Solar Facility. Seven project-level approvals are required for the Solar Facility:
- Amend the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Element Map to reflect a new land use designation for 167 acres (a portion of APN 149-140-076, and part of the proposed Solar Array site) from Agriculture Commercial (AC) to Agriculture II (A-II).
- Amend the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Element Map to apply a Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Facility Overlay on the 327-acre Solar Array site (APN 149-140-076; 149-150-029, -030, -031, and -032).
- Consistency rezone for four parcels (APN 149-150-029, -030, -031, and -032) that are currently zoned Unlimited Agriculture (U) under Ordinance No. 661 to Agriculture II (AG-II).
- Removal of approximately 167 acres of land (a portion of APN 149-140-076) from a Williamson Act contract (76-AP-072) by cancellation or other legal means, concurrent with entry of a replacement contract on the remaining 1,362 acres of the Agricultural Preserve.
- A lot line adjustment, affecting three parcels (APN 149-140-076, 149-150-029, and -030) to allow seller/Applicant transfer of Project parcels.
- A CUP for the Solar Facility, including Solar Array, Gen Tie-line with Switchyard, anemometer towers and telecommunications facility.
- Approval of a Franchise Agreement for construction of the Gen Tie-Line within the public road right-of-way along Kirschenmann Road.
Improvements to the existing PG&E Cuyama Substation include expansion of the substation area by approximately 2,760 sf due to a 24-foot extension of the existing southerly fence line, installation of a 15-foot by 30-foot battery building with a height of 12 feet, and installation of an approximate 90-foot tall telecommunications pole located within the Cuyama Substation fenced area. This component will be referenced hereafter as the PG&E Cuyama Substation Additions.
Certified Final Environmental Impact Report
The CP/LUDC Amendments would apply on up to 600 acres of land designed A-II or AC and zoned AG-II in the Cuyama Valley Rural Region, excluding Existing Rural Developed Neighborhoods (EDRN), in the northeastern portion of Santa Barbara County, First Supervisorial District.
The Solar Array site is located on approximately 327 acres of agricultural land southeast of the town of Cuyama, commonly known as 596 Kirschenmann Road, APNs 149-150-029, -030, -031, -032, 149-140-076. The 3-mile Gen Tie-Line route extends approximately 1.5 miles north along the east side of Kirshenmann Road where it would then extend west approximately 1.5 miles along the south and north side of Washington Street and end at the PG&E Cuyama Substation, APNs 149-150-039, 149-140-041, 149-330-001 and 149-010-049. The Switchyard would be located 80 feet north of the existing PG&E Cuyama Substation, APN 149-010-049. All components of the Solar Facility are within the Cuyama Valley Rural Region, First Supervisorial District.
The PG&E Cuyama Substation Additions would be located immediately south of the existing PG&E Cuyama Substation, APN 149-010-036, within the Cuyama Valley Rural Region, First Supervisorial District.