Cloverdale gives green light to solar project

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cloverdale, one of Sonoma County’s perennial hot and sunny spots, is known as a good place to grow tomatoes. It’s also well situated for a solar power array.

The city is moving forward with harnessing the sun’s energy to run its water and wastewater treatment plants, a project expected to save $3.5 million in electricity costs over a couple decades and also enable the municipality to exceed its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The City Council on Wednesday night found there were no significant negative environmental impacts associated with the project and on 4-0 vote authorized the city manager to execute a site license agreement with SolEd Benefit of San Rafael to develop the solar project. It’s expected to be built by late spring.

“It’s a win-win for everybody. The state likes it. It’s good for the company. It’s good for the city. Everybody’s happy,” Mayor Bob Cox said Thursday.

Most of the discussion among council members was to ensure shrubs and small trees get planted to screen the solar panels at the water treatment plant from the view of people using the path of nearby River Park.

The 1 megawatt total array is actually part of a number of other smaller solar projects that are being implemented in the coming year in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties under a cooperative purchasing approach that allows the dozen or so participating agencies to save money as well as generate a total of 6.8 megawatts of solar capacity.

One megawatt is approximately enough to provide electricity to 200 homes.

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