September 3, 2020
The combined project area of the two proposed industrial solar power plants for North Livermore Valley is massive, approximately 820 acres. That is larger than Livermore Airport or the campus at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. More than fourteen San Francisco Premium Outlets shopping complexes in Livermore would fit within the area of the planned industrial solar plants. Nearly 350,000 eight-feet high solar panels will blanket the landscape.
In 2011, the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (EBCNPS) called on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to complete a solar policy for the entire county. The EBCNPS explained that the lack of a solar policy "would increase the probability that poorly planned, environmentally damaging projects" would be approved.

Staff assured the Board of Supervisors that a plan would be developed, but recommended that the Board approve the solar project that was pending before it. The Board agreed.

Staff never presented to the Board of Supervisors a policy covering where utility-scale solar projects, if any, should be built in rural Alameda County.

The photo on the left shows today a "solar farm" the County approved in 2011. The warning issued by the EBCNPS that without a solar policy Alameda County risked approving projects that could damage the environment sadly has proven accurate.

Alameda County should not make the same mistake twice.

Before the County reviews any further individual utility-scale solar projects on agricultural land, it should establish clear rules for the appropriate siting, scale and operations of solar power plants. This would ultimately save the public and the County time, energy and money and create certainty for all parties.

Joined by Livermore-based Friends of Open Space & Vineyards, Save North Livermore Valley has requested that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors direct the Planning Department to complete a comprehensive solar policy for agricultural districts, with public input, and a General Plan amendment prior to reviewing utility-scale solar projects on agricultural land.

The Tri-Valley Conservancy, Alameda County Agricultural Advisory Committee and City of Livermore have adopted the same position. The Tri-Valley Conservancy stated,

"The County has a responsibility to ensure that sufficient guiding policies are adopted before approving any projects, to minimize potential impacts and guarantee the public voice is heard. The County was directed by their Supervisors to complete a Solar Mapping Project that would have allowed the County to evaluate the impacts of solar projects on agriculture, biodiversity, visual impact, and other factors and determine suitable locations for their construction. This was not completed."

While supportive of solar projects that pass environmental review, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Sierra Club too has called on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to complete a solar policy:

"A solar policy for the whole County will move us away from scrutinizing these projects on a case-by-case basis and identify land that can be a prime opportunity for the development of local renewable energy resources while mitigating or eliminating environmental impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act. While it is unfortunate that the solar policy has been in limbo for years, we strongly urge the County to prioritize this matter."

In 2010, Santa Clara County adopted a policy for solar facilities on agricultural land. Earlier this year Contra Costa County, after studying how to expand renewable energy countywide, adopted a solar ordinance that permits large-scale solar facilities on rural land in a limited portion of the County.

There is no reason why Alameda County can not complete its comprehensive solar policy. Otherwise, by failing to plan, the County is planning to fail.
Community Voices In Support of Saving North Livermore Valley
“We all have a duty to preserve our planet for future generations. We truly treasure and don’t take for granted what the North Livermore Valley offers not only us, our children, and our grandchildren, but what it offers so many others from all around the Bay Area, who come out daily to cycle, jog, walk, paint, draw, stargaze, watch the sunset, or just relax and enjoy nature’s beauty and natural habitat. We can have both solar and preserve the Scenic North Livermore Valley and one should not destroy the other.”

 – Linda & Merlin Newton, members of Save North Livermore Valley
"I have worked in a prototypical utility-scale, tracking-photovoltaic array field. I also have some experience and education in agriculture, with a degree in plant science from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. This does not make me an authority or expert in either, nor do I claim to be. It does give me perspective on the juxtaposition between the two.

A utility-scale solar field in North Livermore Valley would mean the destruction of that land as we know it. The proposed solar field would be an industrial implementation beyond the Urban Growth Boundary. Building a solar field involves heavy equipment, such as pile drivers and the like, that compacts and disrupts the soil immensely. The Sierra Club used to have a slogan: 'Not blind opposition to progress: Opposition to blind progress!' I am not generally opposed to utility-scale solar fields; however, North Livermore Valley is not the place for one. It would be blind progress."

"Solar is excellent renewable energy but the location is very important. It belongs in urban areas - on the roof of residential and commercial buildings, over parking areas such as Las Positas College, Kaiser and Livermore schools.

It should not be in Large Parcel Agriculture, Resource and Water Management and Scenic Corridor lands in North Livermore.

Livermore is the Lead for designating North Livermore as a Priority Conservation Area and it should be protecting the conservation values of the area. The proposed solar plans should not be considered until Alameda County finishes its study and produces a comprehensive plan for solar in the county."

3 Steps You Can Take Today To Help Save North Livermore Valley

  • Send an email message to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Let them know that saving North Livermore Valley is important to you and request that they complete a solar policy for rural areas of the County before approving any new solar power plants on agricultural land. We have posted the email addresses of the Supervisors and offer suggested talking points on our website here.

  • Forward this newsletter onto your friends and neighbors. Let them know the future of North Livermore Valley is at risk and they can learn more by reading the newsletter. They can also sign up to receive the newsletter.

  • Help raise community awareness of the need to act to save our valley by submitting a letter to your local paper. For Livermore Valley residents, send a letter to the Independent at this link.
About Save North Livermore Valley

We started as a group of farm and ranch families and other members of the North Livermore Valley Rural Community. We have been joined by over 175 concerned residents in the City of Livermore and Tri-Valley area united for the purpose of preserving the open space, agricultural land and wildlife habitat of North Livermore Valley for future generations.

You can join our grassroots effort to the save the valley, request a free "Save Our Valley" sign and contact us at