Minneola Solar I and It’s Possible Consequences

Introduction

The Newberry-Harvard Property Owners Association voted on the 20th of January to oppose proposed solar facilities in our valley for a number of reasons, the most significant being the disastrous experience with the Mountain View solar installation, the size of which is minuscule compared to the proposed new installations in both Daggett and Newberry, which if completed will cover about ten square miles of our valley floor.

Letters have been sent to the County expressing our Association’s vehement opposition to the projects, and we hope that many more residents will engage with us in opposition.

Advantages

No carbon emissions other than those produced in the manufacture of the panels. But is this really an advantage? Carbon emissions have both their antagonists and protagonists. The jury is still out on the matter.

Disadvantages

There are many disadvantages to photovoltaic power generation facilities, especially when they are located in populated areas:

Expensive

The process is more expensive than fossil generation even though the price of solar panels has decreased radically in the last decade, but panel prices are on the increase with Trump’s thirty percent tariff on cheap solar panels from Asia, so the bill for solar power is inevitably going to be higher. Taxes will also be higher in California due to various solar subsidies which, in the main, have now been extended to 2025. The recent forty percent tax increase on gasoline from 29 cents to 41 cents can easily be attributed to many so-called green programs promoted by the state, including photovoltaic power generation.

Since there appears to be no solar storage on the Minneola site, which contributes enormously to the sites cost, generation will only be available during daylight hours and not during periods of peak electrical usage in months when the days are shorter and more reliable and expensive peak generation is utilized.

There is a glut of power in California now with the state's energy prices the second highest in the continental U.S.. In 2017, Arizona got free power and lower utility bills from their own utilities where California, because of an excess of generation, essentially paid Arizona to to take the excess. Why in heaven are we building new generation facilities? If solar is so important, why don’t we shut down the ‘polluting’ fossil generation? Because most solar only functions during the day, that’s why. Should we then put most everyone in the dark at night so that we don’t pollute?

Ugly and Dangerous

We definitely have experienced the ugliness, danger, and destruction from solar tracking panels in Newberry with the 2012 approval by San Bernardino County, whose First District Supervisor at the time was Robert Lovingood, of the solar facility on Mountain View, the solar panels of which destroy vegetation and dwarf the homes unfortunate enough to be across the road in the path of the blowing, blinding sand from the facility. The same thing will happen to an enormous area of Newberry and Daggett. The areas of Newberry that will not experience blowing dust from the Minneola facility will get it from the Daggett facility, not exactly a zero sum situation.

Currently, the only residents exposed to significant electromagnetic and electrostatic radiation from very high voltage transmission lines live west of Powerline Road. Now residents about five miles into Newberry will have the distinct advantage of similar exposure.

According to Arizona State University, in recent years, the incidence of Valley Fever, a life-threatening malady, along with other respiratory problems directly related to soil disturbance during high winds has increased in the desert areas of the country. With thousands of acres being devoted to solar power, one wonders why.

Blinding reflections from both metallic components and panels are inevitable and can be reduced but never eliminated by anti-reflective coatings. Incident radiation can be reflected as much a thirty percent from the panels. This will definitely be an issue, not only with residents but also with Barstow-Daggett airport.

Obstructive

In our area, access to 1200 acres, almost four sections of land will be fenced off and inaccessible. The view of the area south of the Burlington Northern railroad tracks will be blocked by more than four miles of both gargantuan solar panels, more than 15 feet high, and electrical substation(s) rising to high voltage transmission lines, 75 feet and 125 feet high respectively.

Property Values

Property values never survive the installation of industrial facilities near residential areas. Newberry is already suffering from loss of residents and the consequent abandonment of homes and properties. These solar facilities can only contribute to the problem. Will residents choose to sell out, abandon before the possible solar cataclysm?

We certainly pray that it isn’t necessary. Our fire department and community recreational facilities won’t survive such a radical decrease in property tax revenues that can accompany property devaluation and/or abandonment.

Synopsis of Stats

Name: Minneola Solar I, LLC

200 Megawatt PV Generation - Approx 69 Megawatt-Hours per day (600,000 Megawatt-Hours per year)

No battery storage mentioned.

6 Mile 220,000 Volt tie line following line parallel to Santa Fe street to Edison Coolwater electrical substation. Substation components up to 75 feet in height. 125 foot poles.

1200 acres, 700,000 PV Panels with tracking each tracker contains 80-90 panels, 15 feet above the ground.

Bounds immediately north of railroad tracks above National Trails between Wildhorse Road and Malibu Avenue 
(4 miles) and mostly south of Cottonwood Road with exception of two parcels. Contains 44 parcels of private land

Built In accordance with county’s Solar Ordinance (Development Code Chapter 84.29 Renewable Energy Generation Facilities) which now allows siting of solar facilities in residential areas.

Conclusion

All these facts demand that we just don’t allow this travesty to take place; we must make our opposition and presence felt at every public meeting related to these projects.

The Association would like to thank association member Bob Berkman for his dedicated work in researching the problem and in keeping other members up to date on the proposed projects. Fred Stearn has also been a wealth of information relating to the ongoing property negotiations. Both gentlemen deserve community kudos for their efforts.