On Tuesday, January 11, the five county supervisors will decide whether to appeal a planning commission's decision to allow Eurus Energy to build a 341-acre photovoltaic solar energy system off of Palm Canyon Drive in Borrego Springs. The Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group appealed the proposal after the county's planning commission approved the project on October 8.
The Eurus Borrego Solar Project features the installation of 10,288 solar panels, 38 inverter towers, a storage facility, and two control substations. The facility will produce approximately 35 to 46 megawatts of energy and is expected to generate power for 46,000 homes in the region.
In July 2010, the Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group unanimously voted to deny issuing the required permits. Opponents of the plan felt the project would disturb natural habitats and impact the aesthetics of undisturbed desert. Critics also claimed the project will require too much valuable groundwater from Borrego Valley's underground aquifer.
"The San Diego region can be the leader in renewable energy, but renewable facilities should be sited where the electricity is needed," wrote Conrad Kramer, executive director of the Anza Borrego Foundation, in a January 6 editorial in the Union-Tribune. "There is no need to have a huge environmentally destructive downside to renewable energy. There is no need to sully our wonderful shared dream of green power."
Despite their concerns, county staff recommends giving Eurus Energy the green light. Staff claims that the environmental concerns raised by Borrego residents are thoroughly mitigated and that the project is consistent with the area's general plan.
"The project is harmonious with surrounding land uses in the terms of bulk and scale," reads the recommendation from county planners. "The project does not have a harmful effect on desirable neighborhood character because it is compatible with adjacent land uses."