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Economy

San Diego County Supervisors Reject Boulevard Solar Project

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The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday denied a permit for one of two solar projects in Boulevard at the request of the developer, which decided against moving forward with the plan.

Patrick Brown of Soitec Solar Development said the Paris-based company had chosen to exit the solar market and focus on its primary core microelectronics business. The French company is selling off its solar assets and manufacturing business, he said.

The 420-acre Tierra Del Sol Solar project was planned for an area south of Interstate 8, south of Tierra Del Sol Road and adjacent to the U.S.-Mexico border. Brown said Soitec had tried to market the project for the last couple months, but there was no interest.

"With the power prices where they are now — almost two-thirds less than they were four years ago when we started this process — it just doesn't pencil out," Brown told the board.

The property owner will now be tasked with selling the site.

Plans for the 765-acre Rugged Solar project north of Interstate 8 and east of Ribbonwood Road remain in place, but Soitec plans to sell it to another company, Brown said.

"The good news is we're moving forward with the Rugged project," he said. "We have about six companies interested, and by the end of this month we should probably have it sold to another company and we'll move forward with development on that project."

The supervisors gave tentative approval to both projects last month. At that meeting, several area residents voiced concerns about groundwater resources, fire risks, glare and other aesthetic impacts, harm to plants and animals, and Soitec's financial stability.

In January, the French electronics firm announced that it was eliminating around 100 jobs at its 3-year-old solar energy plant in Rancho Bernardo.

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