Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amber Waves Of--Solar Panels?

Government officials in California are not satisfied with destroying the food basket of the Central Valley by cutting off the water to save a fish. Now it's time to destroy agriculture in the north by replacing fertile farmland with solar panels. Yolo and Sacramento counties are not affected by the water shutoff since they are at the headwaters that formerly fed the farms to the south.

Those of us who attended UC Berkeley in the 60s used to refer to our little sister, UC Davis (Yolo County) semi-affectionately as the Cal Aggies. The university was devoted largely to agriculture although it did have full curricula in other fields. The school was instrumental in increasing farm fertility throughout the state, including many of the proposals for water projects that later increased agricultural productivity throughout the state. The City of Davis today is in the forefront of political correctness, largely as a result of the heavy population of UC Davis students who don't even faintly resemble their counterparts from the 60s.

Currently, the City of Davis is considering plans from politically-connected developers to turn hundreds of acres of Yolo County lush farmland into solar farms. Ironically, one of the reasons given for eliminating the farmland is that the solar panels would provide a considerable portion of the power needed to operate--you guessed it--the farms. Is it just me, or does that sound like the old medical gag where the doctor informs the family that they had to kill the patient to save him?

The plan that the Davis city council will soon vote on is proposed by developers Angelo K. Tsakopoulos and Phil Angelides. California political junkies should recognize the name Angelides. Angelides was a longtime far left member of the Democratic Party, starting with his antiwar activism in the mid-60s. After helping to secure the nominations of George Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer he went on to his own career as a politician, being elected State Treasurer in 1998 and again in 2002. In that position he was in charge of the California Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) nd the California State Teachers Retirement System, which are the major contributors to California's looming bankruptcy.

Best of all, Angelides was the leader of the "Green Wave Initiative" which convinced the legislature to invest $950,000,000.00 in environmental businesses and research. Are you seeing a connection here? Angelides has been out of office just long enough to be allowed by law to deal directly with governmental agencies outside of conflict of interest and incompatibility of office rules. California is sounding more like Chicago all the time.

The Yolo County Board of Supervisors and the Regional Planning Commission are not quite so far to the left as the City of Davis, so there's no guarantee that Tsakopoulos and Angelides will succeed. But these are not sane times, in California anyway. The best the Yolo supervisors can come up with so far is to require that the proposed Davis ordinance be modified somewhat. Instead of simply allowing the developers to plump down their solar panels anywhere they can bribe or coerce the farmers into giving up their highly-productive farms, the County wants the applicants to certify that there is no non-prime farmland in the affected area for the installation of the panels. Yeah, that will stop them.

Fortunately for agriculture, the farmers and farm workers in the county outnumber the money-grubbing eco-weenie politicians, developers, and radical UC Davis students. But there are also the state regulations working against the farmers. I've mentioned before that the state requires that private and public energy-providers must derive 33% of their power from renewable sources no later that 2020. That goal is ridiculous, but it gives the much-subsidized "green energy" people a strong argument for acting in haste.

The big push hasn't yet affected adjacent Sacramento County, since there were plenty of non-fertile areas to build on. But that land is disappearing fast, and the county will soon be in the same situation as Yolo County. The Tsakopoulos/Angelides initial project would create an 80 megawatt facility that would eat up 688 acres of present farmland. And that's only the initial project. They have many more up their sleeve. In nearby Placer County, they have proposed a 220 megawatt solar farm that they say would power 75,000 homes. At least there they are running into opposition from competing environmentalists who want to turn farmland into wildlife reserves.

These projects appear to have some Democratic opposition in the state legislature, but it's more apparent than real. State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) says she is concerned, and intends to introduce legislation that would provide incentives for the developers to put their solar panels in non-fertile areas. In other words, make an already heavily-subsidized industry more heavily-subsidized.

Green advocates profess extremely strong "mitigation" standards to protect the environment. How about some extremely strong mitigation standards which protect the farms? California is already bleeding jobs, and this will only worsen the problem by eliminating farms in favor of green suburbs and wildlife reserves. Mitch Sears, Davis's "sustainability programs manager" says he is addressing the issue. He wants the farmers to consider mingling agriculture within the rows of solar panels. Oh, brother--is he kidding? Has he ever tried to plow a field without the impediment of rows of touchy solar panels? Believe me, that's hard enough.

Says Sears: "Solar is in Davis's DNA. It's the culture of the community. We're trying to work toward lower energy use and increased renewables. This is the scale that it is going to take to achieve that." That DNA pool doesn't extend back even forty years, when the only green the locals were concerned with was the lush green of the bumper crops being produced throughout the area. Concurrently, the UC Davis Aggies are producing far more lawyers than farmers. Pity.

28 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Darn it, I do like the wine that the graduates produce, but it seems to me that the good sense required to produce great wine is diametrically opposed to stupid P.C mantra. Then i realize we are talking about northern California. Oh yeah, of course.

Joel Farnham said...

The only thing I can think of, is Congress will probably run out of money before it becomes a real bother. Also, some of those farms don't produce food, they produce a rope-like substance used by certain individuals. Those farmers have military grade weapons and will defend their property. ;-)

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: My wife and I bought our first home in the Livermore Valley. We were in the center of one of the finest wine-producing areas of the world. I would to this day recommend the Wente Brothers Blanc de Blancs or Grey Riesling over any white wine in the world (and the Parisians agree, year after year). But who knows how much longer those vineyards can last when the City of Livermore and the County of Alameda have discovered they can get more taxes out of subdivision ticky-tacky boxes than they can out of vineyards? They now tax the vineyards as if they were residential neighborhoods. Wente and Concannon are still there, but others, equally notable, have long since disappeared under the McMansions.

T-Rav said...

Dear South California: Better get on that secession thing sooner rather than later, before more of this insanity trickles down your way. Or just move, either way. Or maybe swing into motion for the GOP in your state.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: So let's make it legal and tax it. Why should criminals have all the fun? Actually, other counties have more wacky weed farms than Yolo and Sacramento (particularly Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity), but your point is well-taken.

AndrewPrice said...

California votes for these people and they deserve what they get quite frankly. I still think California should go carbon free. . . 100%.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: South California Forever! LOL Actually, we'll never have the same movement here in Caliente. After all, this is desert with 340 days a year of sun. Why would we want to put solar panels here? It might interfere with the habitat of the double-assed cactus slug, the black striped porch moth, or the brown tomtit tarantula, and then we'd have the EPA all over us.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Don't forget South California! I don't know anybody who voted for these people in Caliente, Havilah, Bodfish or Lake Isabella. Kern County voted 57.65% to 39.97% against Obama in '08 and both my state representatives are conservative Republicans. But then, we don't have a lot of votes. Phooey.

patti said...

soon we'll have plenty of green energy, but nothing to eat.

i hear greenie stupid tastes like chicken...

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: But look at the upside. We'll be able to see our empty food plates by the light of solar-powered mercury-filled bulbs without wasting fossil fuel. LOL

StanH said...

Now if you could only eat solar panels the greenie-weenies might have a point?

I see Moonbeam is signing the “Dream Act” into law in California? They should rename it, The Suicide Pact, my God, CA is jumping in a grave and burying itself…WOW!

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: It makes perfect sense for Brown to sign the California DREAM act. The Democrats have, and want to keep control of the state using the unions, the stupid, and the welfare dependent. But they also need lots of illegals to get a good college indoctrination so they don't stray off the plantation. It's simple: we pretend they're just like tax-paying California citizens, and they'll pretend to be learning something in college.

T-Rav said...

"and they'll pretend to be learning something in college."

Hey! That's what I did!

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Yes, but did they give you in-state tuition? You are originally from Berkina Faso and here illegally, aren't you?

LawHawkRFD said...

I just saw an article which, if true, does not make me love Texas Governor Rick Perry. Apparently, he's ready, willing and able to sign the Texas version of the DREAM act.

What amazes me about this ridiculously flawed logic about "future citizens with fine educations" is why we have to jump from "don't let 'em in at all" to in-state tuition. Shouldn't an illegal have to pay at least as much as a Nebraska citizen who wants to attend a state college or university in California? What's wrong with at least charging them the out-of-state tuition?

The answer, of course, is that somebody has to pay that tuition for the illegals. Most of them couldn't possibly do it themselves, and at least for now, they are not qualified for state scholarships and aid to education. So they have to keep the price down so the "let 'em all in" crowd and the Mexican nationalist irredentists can afford to pay the tuition for them.

LawHawkRFD said...

Correction: Perry had already signed the Texas DREAM act in 2001. His latest pander to the Hispanics was to "stand by" his decision to sign the act. How dedicated can Perry be to border control and protection if all they have to do is get across that border in order to get Texas in-state college tuition? I'm also wondering how Texas, of all places, got ahead of California on this liberal idiocy.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, you nailed it on every count. In fact, since you bring it up, I want to share something personal--without going into details, my father was once the ruler of Burkina Faso before a revolution drove him out. He's died, sadly, and left a bunch of valuables to me in his will; unfortunately, it's back in my homeland. So I would like to ask Commentarama readers to send me some money--oh, say a few hundred dollars each--to pay for the transport costs and so on. Once I get this treasure, I promise to send you a share as thanks for all your help. Come on! Would I lie to you?

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Sure. Just provide me with your full name, address, a photocopy of your driver's licens, your social security number, name of bank and account numbers and I will be glad to assist you in getting your valuables back.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, All I can say is either breed like rabbits and get your numbers up or set fire to everything and leave the state. I'm thinking you'll be better off leaving the state.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Remember, I have three kids and eight grandkids, all of them good little taxpayers or future taxpayers who plan on repopulating the state with more taxpayers who demand their moneysworth. We lull them to sleep at night by repeating "what's yours is yours, and what's mine is mine, and if you try to take mine without paying for it, I'll blow your head off."

patti said...

i know lots of folks outside of texas are likin' perry, but i've been beating the NO! drumbeat since the talk started about a perry run. no thanks, bub.

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: It sounds to me like Perry has many pluses, but his negatives are really obvious and problematic. Overall, I could accept him over Romney, but that's faint praise indeed.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, shame on you for teaching such violence! You can't hug with guns...or however that goes.

Patti, what gives with Perry? He's not my number 1, but I got the impression he was an all-right guy.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I'm as peaceful as a lamb. Angry words would never pass my lips. Or something.

I can't speak for Patti, but I see strong echoes of Bush-style "big government compassionate conservatism" in Perry.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
When I first looked into pv solar it became very evident that the best I could expect for an ROI was 18 years.
That was based not on the pie in the sky analysis that the sales companies provide but upon calculations that fit reality.
There are now some improved methods of harvesting electricity from sun light. The most recent system that I have found looks like about six years.
Those calculations were both based upon electric power cost remaining the same over the time frame.
I also did not incorporate the added cost of cleaning the panels and any potential maintenance cost.
Add all that in and maybe there won't be a government to reap the benefits of the investment.
This sure looks like another Forest Gump moment.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: Now imagine what you're doing, only on a massive scale. It may be practical some day, but it isn't yet. They contend the panels will last twenty-five years, but that's a lot easier to say than to prove. I don't trust greedy green-energy barons who depend on government projects any more than I trust the government itself. No matter what happens, this will be a fiasco.

Koshcat said...

Mmmmm, double-assed cactus slug. Can you recommend a good wine with this?

I'm starting to think that perhaps we should put our troops on the California border to stop the refugees from infesting the rest of the country. Sorry LawHawk, but maybe Andrew has connections to get a student visa so you can gamble in Las Vegas.

LawHawkRFD said...

Koshcat: Wente Brothers Livermore Grey Riesling. LOL

I'll just cross the border into Nevada like all the other illegals. No visa necessary. Maybe I can buy some guns from the feds while I'm there.

Post a Comment