One solar project under construction, another in the works

Crews work on the Sol Orchard solar installation at Warnock Drive and Ramona Street. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard
Crews work on the Sol Orchard solar installation at Warnock Drive and Ramona Street. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

By Karen Brainard

With one large solar energy installation in the initial stages of construction, another is expected to be presented to the Ramona Community Planning Group in the next couple of months.

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) plans to install a 5-megawatt photovoltaic solar project by its substation on Creelman Lane, said a spokesperson for the utility. The project would take up a third of the 30-acre parcel that SDG&E owns on Creelman, said Jennifer Ramp, and has been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Ramp said SDG&E is fine-tuning design and plans to reach out to the community through a presentation at a Ramona planning group meeting and through letters to neighboring residents that will include a project site map.

Construction is slated for the latter half of 2014, with completion in 2015, she said. The project will need county approval, said Ramp.

The Sol Orchard solar project at Ramona Street and Warnock Drive is under way. A portion of land has been cleared on the 110-acre farm owned by Mark Bousema, who is leasing the land to the solar company for 25 years.

Sol Orchard will install single-axis tracking photovoltaic solar panels on 42.7 acres of the property. The panels will have a production capacity of 7.5 megawatts and will tie into the distribution line that runs parallel to Warnock and serves Ramona, according to Sol Orchard.

Will Pritchard, Sol Orchard vice president, said the grading is done at the site, underground electrical work is under way, and they expect to begin installing the solar panels in early October.

“It goes in pretty fast,” he said.

The project should be operational by the end of the year, Pritchard said.

The Sol Orchard project was unanimously rejected by the Ramona Community Planning Group, which cited incompatibility with community character, blight to the area and loss of use of prime farmland.

The project, however, was approved by the county Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors with  District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob, representing her Ramona constituents, the lone dissenter.

   
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