The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the proposed solar project in Rosamond on Tuesday.
The solar project, known as The Raceway Solar 2.0, is developed by AES Corporation and is supposed to consist of over a thousand acres, have about 680,000 solar panels, and be able to store at least 80 megawatts of energy in a battery storage facility.
The project is expected to generate up to 271 mega watts and will be located at 90th Street East and Avenue A in the Eastern Kern community of Willow Springs.
Because solar energy systems don’t produce greenhouse gases, solar energy can have a positive effect on the environment by reducing air pollution, reducing water usage, helping fight climate change, and reducing dependence on nonrenewable energy sources. Additionally, solar energy in residential areas has cost saving benefits such as: financial returns, lower monthly utility bills, and increased home value.
A representative with AES corporation that’s in charge of the project urged the Board to approve this project on July 27, noting the project could create up to 200 jobs to east Kern.
“The project will improve state-wide grid reliability with clean energy storage, lessening our dependence on fossil fuels,” the representative said.
Due to an intensifying battle over energy between Kern County leaders and Governor Gavin Newsom, the vote was delayed and it was decided the item would be taken up again on August 24. The clash between Newsom’s Administration and Kern County leaders stems from the Newsom Administration denying 21 new permits for hydraulic fracturing operations in Kern oilfields. Following that decision, Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) urged the Kern County Board of Supervisors to consider suspending this new solar project.
The construction of a battery storage facility is a new addition to the proposal from when it was presented to the board in late July. However, the facility will be able to help generate revenue for the county since it won’t be exempted from property taxes.
The project is expected to employ up to 200 people for construction and provide electricity grid stability for Southern California customers, including the over 81,000 customers in Kern County, while providing direct power to the East Bay Community Energy located in Alameda County.
Despite some concerns, the Board voted 5-0 to approve the Raceway 2.0 Solar Project. The approval was based on the Final Environmental Impact Report following 53 mitigation measures, cumulative impacts on aesthetics, agricultural resources, air quality, noise during construction, biological resources, and wildlife risk findings.