David Rounds, Livermore
It only took Dave Haubert, the new District 1 supervisor, two months to break a significant, big campaign promise.
Vowing during the run up to the election to favor the creation of a ‘solar siting policy’ before approving utility-scale solar, Haubert led the 5-0 vote by the board of supervisors to approve the Aramis project last week. Vowing to continue to ‘work’ on a solar policy, the environmental and legal flaws of this project were dismissed by the supervisors.
Next month will be an appeal hearing and vote on a second utility-scale solar plant, across the street from the Aramis project. A solar policy will not be in place by that time. Does anyone question the vote of Haubert and the supervisors?
Once this second project is approved, developing a solar siting policy should be easy for Haubert and the supervisors. Put it in the now-industrialized North Livermore Valley. The disregard for violations of general plan zoning, proven environmental impacts, and the general inappropriateness of siting this solar factory in North Livermore was discouraging, but not unexpected from a board that has never accepted the protections to open, scenic, and agricultural land offered by Measure D.
How could they justify this decision?
They did it by making this a zero-sum choice. Save the environment for our grandchildren or have open space. This ridiculously simplified overstatement is a cop out that is going to become the ‘de rigueur’ for solar developers and politicians.
Supervisors are not elected to just make tough decisions, they are elected to make smart decisions and be leaders. Options abound for Alameda County to develop clean-energy sources that do not require covering existing agricultural lands and open space.
Are those options ‘turnkey,’ like this Aramis proposal? No, but sometimes the right decision, impacting the most people, requires work, dedication, and commitment. Unfortunately for citizens, it is much easier for the county to just give that work over to a for-profit developer.
Utility-scale, solar-energy factories can go many, many places in the county and state, but they should not go everywhere. These decisions around our collective desire for clean energy must not be decided based on a developer’s plan and willing landowners, especially when one environmental consideration is being sacrificed for another.