REGIONAL — In a recent letter submitted to the county, attorney Robert Selna — representing Save North Livermore Valley (SNLV) — stated the loss of acreage from the Aramis solar project should require the applicant to resubmit a conditional use permit (CUP) application.
Following the decision of landowners Leland Richard and Mary Stanley to withdraw from lease negotiations with Aramis applicant Intersect Power, the project decreased by 38 acres. Selna pointed out that Intersect officials themselves have stated a reduction in acreage would negatively impact the project’s viability.
“Intersect Power, specifically tied the project's acreage to its economic viability and benefits (more acres, more benefits),” Selna wrote in a Jan. 19 letter to Heather Littlejohn, Alameda County deputy counsel. “We know from the record that the [East County Board of Zoning Adjustments (EBZA)] balanced those benefits against the project's unavoidable environmental impacts when deciding whether to approve the project. The EBZA's balancing test — and therefore the EBZA approval — has been vitiated by the acreage reduction.”
Selna referenced an April 22, 2020 email to county staff, in which Marisa Mitchell, Intersect Power principal, outlined her concerns with a reduction of 45 acres in the Notice of Preparation.
“If the department is now modifying our proposal to include far fewer acres for development, the project is far less economic (we have to buy more land and we will get to use less of it, and we will have significantly reduced economies of scale because we cannot fit 100 MW on so few acres),” Mitchell wrote. “Some of these enhancements may no longer be possible to accommodate and the project may not be economically viable. We are running economic models now to determine potential viability at the prices we've proposed to (CleanPowerSF) and (East Bay Community Energy), but it's very likely this project will not be built if we lose 45 acres. Either way, by eroding the project economics, our budget for community enhancements shrinks dramatically.”
SNLV — “a coalition of hundreds of landowners, ranchers, farmers, environmentalists and proponents of good government” — appealed the East County Board of Zoning Adjustments’ (EBZA) approval of the project late last year. The appeal hearing is expected to take place in February. Selna states “it would be inappropriate to present the Board of Supervisors with, in effect, a new project, reduced by 38 acres and the benefits associated with those acres.”
Selna further pointed out Intersect Power’s Dec. 2 own appeal listed seven points regarding the infeasibility of the conditions approved by the EBZA for the Aramis project. In the letter to the county, Like Dunnington, Intersect vice president, noted the additional setbacks of 100 feet from North Livermore Avenue and Manning Road, plus 80 feet from the project’s western boundary would eliminate 8 acres of “an already highly constrained project footprint.”
Reiterating that Intersect’s own statements conclude that a reduction in acreage would harm the project’s bottom line, reduce its environmental value and shrink its enhancements, Selna concluded,
“Accordingly, we strongly urge you to advise the Alameda Community Development Department that it must require Intersect to resubmit a conditional use application (CUP) for a new project if Intersect wishes to move forward.”