Sue Springer, Livermore
As a life-long Livermore resident committed to preserving our region’s natural habitat for future generations, I am deeply concerned about the invasion of industrial solar plants in North Livermore Valley. The proposed plan to convert 825 acres of open grazing to an industrial-size energy-production facility of 350,000 eight-foot solar panels does not belong in North Livermore.
First, let’s debunk the common myth that if it is not solar, it will be housing. Housing in rural North Livermore would be a violation of Measure D, approved by Livermore voters to maintain the scenic corridor. Second, I am not opposed to solar. Our residence has solar for personal use. Third, whether power plants are built in North Livermore Valley will not determine whether the state meets its renewable-energy goals. California is rapidly constructing solar-power plants statewide.
Before considering any proposals for new solar plants, Alameda County should complete a comprehensive study to identify East county locations most suitable for solar facilities, recognize the risks and requirements, and then adopt an amendment to the General Plan so that the zoning for alternative-energy is clear. There have been a couple of false starts, dating back to 2011, to create a solar policy that were never finished.
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recently completed its solar policy for rural areas. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors owes it to Livermore to do the same before continuing its ad hoc process of approving individual mega-scale solar projects without any approved standards or guidelines.
We believe a study would show that maintaining North Livermore Valley as agricultural land for dry farming and cattle, not solar panels, is the better environmental choice. There are areas over parking lots, roof tops and next to the highway that would not sacrifice one resource to create another solar power site and should be examined before resorting to the unnecessary sacrifice of Livermore’s rich pastoral heritage.
Especially troubling is the impact on the wildlife that currently inhabit the proposed area and that use it as a migration corridor. The area and waterway associated with Cayetano Creek is essential to native plant and animal habitat. Disturbing the native plants and wildlife is irreversible.
Please urge Alameda County to adopt a comprehensive solar plan and halt further conditional-use permits at the sacrifice of our Livermore’s agricultural legacy.