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Oil and solar are on the agenda

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On March 2, SLO County supervisors will likely approve amendments to the environmental work on a 6.8-square-mile solar project and additional production out of the Conoco Phillips oil refinery.

Two items are scheduled on the Board of Supervisors’ consent agenda.

One item would amend a contract of the Environmental Impact Report for SunPower’s solar voltaic project proposed in the California Valley. The original contract was estimated to cost SunPower $674,800, but the amendment would add another $119,500 to the bill. Additional work includes weekly conference calls between SunPower, the county, and environmental consultant Aspen Environmental Group; determining the impacts from refurbishing power transmission lines; and new models for impacts to local water.

On the same day, county supervisors will be asked to approve a partnership with the local Air Pollution Control District for the environmental review of the Conoco Philips refinery on the Nipomo Mesa. The company is seeking a 10 percent increase in its maximum production. If the project goes through, the refinery could pump out up to 48,950 barrels per day. County Planner Murry Wilson said the project wouldn’t involve any new equipment (perhaps a few upgrades of existing equipment) but would give Conoco Phillips the ability to refine more oil than allowed under the existing permit.

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