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Supervisors Tentatively Approve Two Solar Projects In Boulevard

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday gave tentative approval to a pair of proposed solar projects in Boulevard that are expected to generate enough energy to power around 46,000 homes.

The 420-acre Tierra Del Sol Solar project is planned for an area south of Interstate 8, south of Tierra Del Sol Road and adjacent to the U.S.-Mexico border. The 765-acre Rugged Solar project is to be constructed north of Interstate 8 and east of Ribbonwood Road.

The state has certified both Soitec projects as California Environmental Leadership Development Projects.


"We are quickly changing over to electric cars and electric everything that are going to require far more electricity per capita than ever used before," Supervisor Ron Roberts said. "In addition, the state's requiring us to use renewable energy, and that means windmills, means solar, that means geothermal, and we know all of these things are opposed by somebody."

Prior to the supervisors' 4-1 vote, several area residents voiced their concerns about groundwater resources, fire risks, glare and other aesthetic impacts, harm to plants and animals, and Soitec's financial stability. Last month, the French electronics firm announced that it was eliminating around 100 jobs at its 3-year-old solar energy plant in Rancho Bernardo.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who cast the dissenting vote, said area residents were fighting an uphill battle.

"These people are important. They're just as important as people in La Jolla or Rancho Santa Fe or any other part of the region, and I think their property rights should be considered along with the property rights of the owner of the projects that are proposed," Jacob said.

She said the projects were not compatible with the surrounding community, and that rooftop solar panels would be a better option.


Patrick Brown of Soitec said Boulevard has the best solar resources, like direct sunlight, in San Diego County and several areas there have low population density. The proposed sites are also close to utility infrastructure and would get water from multiple sources, which he said would be sustainable, monitored and safe.

Approval of the projects requires a second vote, which is set for March 4.