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SunPower project gets green light

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The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors rejected appeals by environmental groups to stop development of a solar energy farm in the far east of the county. This unanimous decision clears the way for SunPower to build a 250-megawatt photovoltaic project in the Carrizo Plains, an environmentally sensitive area known as a habitat for the endangered giant kangaroo rat and San Joaquin kit fox.

The board requires SunPower to meet 148 conditions before construction can begin, probably by late summer.

The fates of the rat and fox were the main ammunition opponents fired at the project. Environmental groups said the animals’ habitats would be devastated, decried the loss of open space, and claimed the project might even spread Valley Fever, a fungal lung disease.

The environmental community was split by the green nature of the project; some approved of the project, but wanted it built in a less environmentally sensitive area. Supporters said the project will bring jobs, economic development, green energy, and potentially millions of dollars in tax revenue.

This likely isn’t the last the board will see of solar farms; the larger Topaz Solar farm is currently winding its way to approval.

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