John Lindt

Planning Commission approves solar farm application

Lemoore’s largest employer, Leprino Cheese Co, has filed plans to build a 32 acre,10 megawatt solar farm just west of their big plant. Panels will be ground mounted. The city Planning Commission recently approved the application that will help cut the power bill at one the the largest cheese manufacturing facilities in the US. 10MW of power is enough to light up some 2500 homes.

The Lemoore West facility employs 1,000 team members, its size is equal to 11 football fields with over 640,000 square feet of cheese making capacity. Just how much of the daily power needs will be met by the solar farm is not known but it is thought to be substantial. In addition, having an on-site power source could offer the plant energy security in case of rolling grid blackouts.

In the past five years, the price of solar has declined some 45% says the Solar Energy Industry Association. Another incentive is the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), where PV system owners qualify to offset tax payments owed to the IRS in an amount equal to 26% of the eligible cost basis of a solar photovoltaic system until the end of 2022.

California approves grants to food processors for similar systems to help food processors reduce their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Helena Chemical reveals plans west of Hwy 41 in Lemoore

Lemoore City Manager Nathan Olson says that an official application has been submitted from Helena Chemical looking to relocate from Hanford.

Staff received a site plan review application from Helena Agri-Enterprises who is proposing to relocate their three Hanford locations to the south east corner of Industry Way and Production Place, west of Hwy 41. The site is also west of Leprino and their new proposed solar farm. The project will be brought to the Planning Commission upon completion of the environmental review. Staff anticipates this item to be ready for an April meeting.

Hospitality job losses continue here

The unemployment rate in Kings County was 10.7 percent in January 2021, up from a revised 10.6 percent in December 2020, and above the year-ago estimate of 9.6 percent. This compares with an unadjusted unemployment rate of 9.2 percent for California and 6.8 percent for the nation during the same period. Hospitality jobs in the county have been hard hit — down 19% from a year earlier.

Precipitation index just 40%

Tulare Basin precipitation Index is just 40% of average as of March 14.Northern California is at 52%. Steve Haugen who heads up the Kings River Water Assn says the watershed is about 40% as well but a more precise number will be available around April1. We are still ahead of California’s driest years, '76-77. Hanford has received just under 4 inches of rain since Oct. 1, about half the average. Warming into the 70s is possible here late this week.

Gas now over $3 everywhere

You know the recovery is at hand when there is no more gasoline in Tulare/Kings counties selling for under $3. Gas Buddy says among the lowest in the state is Yokut Gas in Lemoore- selling gas for $3.15 and Fastrip in Lemoore who offers regular for $3.16.

Visalia hospital launching new name

What started as Visalia Municipal Hospital became Kaweah Delta District hospital in 1961. Now Kaweah Delta has decided to again change their name recognizing its growth as a multi-community regional medical center. Now it is launching that new identity — a rebranding they call it — to Kaweah Health. A media campaign will be carried out over the next few months to get people used to the name and its significance. The logo will be on signs and buildings, their website,vehicles and paperwork.

Administration figures Kaweah Health offer a significantly broader scope of services and significantly higher quality of care and patient experience than just a few years ago. The cost for the rebranding is in the range of $1.2 million plus considering the district has more than 50 buildings.

In other news, The Lifestyle Center, a division of Kaweah Delta, reopened Wednesday, March 17, now that Tulare County has moved to the next, and less restrictive, phase of the state’s reopening framework.

Navy to base Stingray drone squadron at Pt. Mugu

Unmanned aircraft will bring 730 personnel to base

The United States Department of the Navy has announced the availability of the Final Environmental Assessment assessing the potential environmental impacts of establishing a home base for a new carrier-based unmanned air system at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, California.

This system is known as the MQ- 25A Stingray. The purpose is to base a new West Coast squadron designed to enhance aircraft carrier capability and versatility for the Joint Forces Commander through the integration of a persistent, sea-based, multi-mission aerial refueling and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance unmanned aerial system into the carrier air wing.

The impact reports analyzes the impacts of home basing 20 Stingray air systems and stationing approximately 730 additional personnel plus their family members at Point Mugu; constructing a new hangar, training facilities, and supporting infrastructure; performing air vehicle maintenance; providing training for air vehicle operators and maintainers; and conducting approximately 960 annual MQ- 25A Stingray flight operation

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