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Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Susanna Schick


California Solar Farms Bring Home-Grown Solar Power (Exclusive Photos & Video)

July 23rd, 2013 by  

California Valley Solar Ranch, almost ready for prime time

California Valley Solar Ranch, almost ready for prime time.
Credit: Susanna Schick / CleanTechnica

Sure, we’ve all heard about the skyrocketing growth of solar PV growth in California, including some super large California solar farms. We’ve reported on it here, and on Planetsave. But to see it happening is something else entirely. Riding from Los Angeles to Monterey to cover eRoadRacing for Gas2, I discovered California Valley is in the process of becoming a massive source of energy for the state. The valley has been largely uninhabitable for decades, thanks to excessive nitrates in the groundwater from all the factory cattle farming nearby. Here I stop and ask the only questions they’re allowed to answer about Topaz Farms:

That’s 9 MILLION panels, enough to power about 160,000 homes. The 550 megawatts of power they will generate will go directly to PG&E’s nearby substation. Just down the road, California Valley Solar Ranch is almost completed, and will bring 250 MW onto the grid.

Meet me at the corner of Helios & 58, then tell me again how my EV is powered by coal.

Meet me at the corner of Helios & 58, then tell me again how my EV is powered by coal.
Credit: Susanna Schick / CleanTechnica

What’s really neat is to drive up 33/166 from Ojai, turn left at the old 76 station, and check out Soda Lake, then the actual ghost town of California Valley. There are a few hardy souls still living there, despite the tainted groundwater. But if you’re riding/driving a gas-powered vehicle, be sure you’ve got enough fuel to get to Paso Robles, as that 76 hasn’t pumped gas in decades.

More about California Valley from the California Valley Solar Ranch website:

Making Use of SLO Sunshine

  • With an average of 315 sunny days a year, California Valley is considered one of the best sites for solar in the entire state of California.
  • At an elevation near 2,100 feet, the Valley’s protection from fog boosts the sun’s intensity.
  • The flat topography of the Carissa Plain is an ideal home for the Solar Ranch.

Responsible Land Use

  • This area of the Carrizo Plain was retired from agricultural use 30 years ago due to lack of water.
  • Located several miles outside the Carrizo Plains National Monument, the Solar Ranch will allow for the sustainable development of clean, renewable energy.
  • The California Valley Solar Ranch will connect to the existing PG&E Morro Bay-Midway transmission line located just a few miles north.
  • As a result of CVSR, more than 12,000 acres will be preserved in perpetuity, contributing to a larger conservation and connectivity strategy for the Carrizo Plain.


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About the Author

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in California for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.

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