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Around Kings County: NAS Lemoore solar farm progresses
Around Kings County

Around Kings County: NAS Lemoore solar farm progresses

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Navy solar farm project at NAS Lemoore moves forward

Plans for a 150-acre solar farm on Navy land adjacent to NAS Lemoore are still active and progressing, says a Navy spokesman this week. Since a 2016 impact report on the project, the military has been mum on the fate of the renewable energy project that aims to improve energy security at the Kings County base.

The scale of the solar farm has been downsized from a few years back, now planned to generate 40 megawatts instead of an announced 167MW in 2016. The 2016 project was to span 930 acres of US-owned land, mostly north of the base proper, to be leased to a solar contractor.

Despite the smaller footprint and number of solar arrays, the reborn solar project will also feature a large battery storage facility that will mean the base will no longer need to depend on the California grid to provide power in the case of some emergency.

Navy spokesperson Mario Icari says “this project will ensure sufficient resilient backup power capacity to the installation during contingency events and improve power quality on the grid and to Navy assets during normal operation.”

The Navy says a NAS Lemoore Enhanced Use Lease was offered to Arizona-based Bright Canyon Energy in 2019 and now, in 2021 “development efforts are ongoing. “

Icari adds, “it is unlikely that the project will break ground before 2023. Projects of this scale require coordination with multiple stakeholders in order to ensure the safety and maximum benefit to the Navy and the California public. The Navy and Bright Canyon Energy continue to work with our partners throughout the State, including the local utility and broader market, to bring this project online in the most expeditious manner possible.”

Bright Canyon Energy is a subsidiary of Arizona utility Pinnacle West Capital Corporation.

The power company has  a major coal plant in Arizona that it vows to reduce its operation to decrease the company’s carbon footprint. The Bright Canyon company is working on a solar and battery storage facility in Hawaii.

The Lemoore lease covers 150 acres of land for up to 40MW of solar photovoltaics with a battery energy component that offer “full-base automated black-start and islanding capability to support critical infrastructure.”

A black start is the process of restoring an electric power station or a part of an electric grid to operation without relying on the external electric power transmission network to recover from a total or partial shutdown.

Employing these on-site energy technologies like a micro-grid and black start capability  aims to make the key West Coast military facility more secure in any kind of emergency from California wildfires to foreign hacking of the US grid. 

“The developer is currently finalizing interconnection and market offtake agreements to reach commercial terms for the project.”

Besides the goal of energy security, the Navy has been urged to do its share to fight climate change — a priority in the new Biden administration.The military, like the rest of us, has been impacted  by an increase worldwide of hurricanes, typhoons,rising seas and other severe weather.

The US Department of Defense consumes more energy than any other organization in the US including paying for power for 500,000 buildings.

Cannabis company has option to buy BMX track land

The Lemoore City Council acted this week to approve the following plan. Here is information from the city staff report.

The City of Lemoore owns an 18-acre parcel occupied by Framework Racing, Inc. (Lemoore BMX). Cannabis company, People’s Properties, LLC, desires to enter into an option to purchase the 18 acres for their agricultural-related uses. This Agreement would allow the current Framework Racing lease to stay intact until the expiration date of June 30, 2025. 

The City views the BMX track as an asset to the community. The BMX facility is host to several state and national events annually. It is the desire of all parties to maintain a BMX track located within City limits in the future.

The City previously entered into a project development agreement (PDA) with Peoples Properties, LLC. The City Manager is delegated authority to administratively amend the PDA so long as the changes do not materially alter the land uses or development. contemplated under the PDA. 

Council desires to have this item return as a PDA amendment, it can direct staff to return at a later date with a formal PDA amendment.

The proposed agricultural uses are deemed exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

People’s Properties, LLC will pay $100,000 ($10,000 within 3 days of agreement, $90,000 at 12 months from date of agreement) for the option to purchase. Peoples Properties, LLC will pay a total of $540,000 ($30,000/acre) for the 18 acres, APN 024-080-069-000 if they decide to exercise the option in 2025. Framework Racing currently pays the City $1/year. Should the option to purchase real estate not be exercised, the city retains the $100,000 down payment.

The BMX property may be better situated for the pot company given its location on busy Highway 41 at Idaho rather than their plan to buy the same size acreage further to the east.  

Droughts Longer, Rainfall More Erratic Over the Last Five Decades in Most of the West

Dry periods between rainstorms have become longer and annual rainfall has become more erratic across most of the western United States during the past 50 years, according to a study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and the University of Arizona. 

Against the backdrop of steadily warming temperatures and decreasing total yearly rainfall, rain has been falling in fewer and sometimes larger storms, with longer dry intervals between. 

Total yearly rainfall has decreased by an average of 0.4 inches over the last half century, while the longest dry period in each year increased from 20 to 32 days across the West, explained co-senior author Joel Biederman, a research hydrologist. 

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