Butte Co. Lays the Groundwork for Large Scale Solar Facilities

OROVILLE, Calif. – Butte County is looking for input on its plans to lay the groundwork for large scale solar facilities that would feed electricity directly to a utility.

The county is hosting three public workshops to get public input on where to declare Solar Overlay Zones. The zones could measure from 10 acres to several hundred acres.

The program is called the PowerButte Solar Overlay Zone. PowerButte is a grant funded Butte County initiative to encourage large scale solar energy development in suitable locations in Butte County.

The county will introduce potential locations for the proposed Solar Overlay Zone.

While this use is currently already allowed in Butte County through a lengthy permit process, siting these facilities has been difficult due to numerous environmental, cultural, and community constraints. The Solar Overlay Zone is a way to help site facilities in areas of the county that will avoid problems and simplify and shorten the permit process.

The areas indicated in the green on the map are the most suitable for the overlay zone, and comprise about 8,600 acres.

The areas in yellow are suitable, and comprise 175,000 acres.

“This is the wave of the future for the state,” said Breedon. “We see that happening in many places and homeowners are making their own decisions to install solar on their rooftops.”

Dan Breedon of Butte County Department of Development Services said they do not anticipate all of the most suitable areas being developed with utility scale solar.

Breedon explained, the overlay will likely be larger than what is needed, to provide more choices. Development within the overlay will be voluntary on the part of the landowner. The county will not be developing solar facilities.

Breedon said that property owners will get a certain amount of money each month. The amount of money has not been finalized.

Breedon also said that neighborhoods could benefit as well. If a property owner within a community chose to have solar overlay installed on his or her property, the county plans to set up a benefits package for the entire community.

The benefit package would allocate certain county money to that community for local improvements.

Breedon hopes that by 2018, installation will begin.

Butte Co. Lays the Groundwork for Large Scale Solar Facilities, by Kelli Saam, KRCR News, July 14, 2016.

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