Most Newberry Springs residents who have seen the size of the new solar
structures being installed on Mountain View Road have been shocked by their massive size.
Under the original plan approved by the county, the structures were to be no higher than 7-feet
from the ground.
The new solar tracking photovoltaic panels will reach a height of just
under 28 feet when in a full up-right position.
Surprised residents have been asking, how did this happen. Why weren't
we notified. The answer is that the owners of the properties surrounding the perimeter
of the project, most of whom are absentee landowners, were notified of an application to
modify the original permit that was acquired by Solutions for Utilities, Inc. (Mary Hoffman) on
July 13, 2010.
The property and building permit of Solutions for Utilities was sold by Mary
Hoffman to German based Concentrix which was then later acquired by Soitec Solar of France.
Soitec's application for the Newberry site is under the name of Newberry Solar 1, LLC; and Soitec
is installing its photovoltaic equipment developed and built by Concentrix.
With its research still ongoing, the Newberry Springs Community Alliance
has acquired a copy of what it believes is the notice for the drastic modification in the
height. Unfortunately, the notice appears to have been intentionally written by the
county so as not to describe and inform Newberrians of the main purpose of the modification;
or to alert and raise a concern over the project's increase of four-times the structure height.
The county Land Use Services Department's project public notice states:
REVISION TO AN APPROVED SOLAR POWER GENERATING FACILITY (3 MEGAWATT) TO
MODIFY THE PHOTOVOLTAIC TECHNOLOGY TO USE LESS EQUIPMENT WITH LESS LAND
DISTURBANCE ON THE SAME 27 ACRE PORTION OF A 73 ACRE PARCEL.
This strongly sounds like less. Definitely not BIGGER and not more obstructiveness
This public notice only states a change in technology; "less equipment;" and "less
land disturbance." It states nothing about a modification to the originally approved
It is even arguable that not less equipment is involved; only that it is being
supported in the air by columns.
This raises the issue as to whether this highly misleading and inadequate
notice constitutes the necessary constructive notice required by law. Do the neighboring
residents now have a meritorious claim against the county?
Troublesome is another Land Use document associated with the county's
negative EIR declaration. In the document, San Bernardino County CEQA Addendum To The
Mitigated Negative Declaration, the county willy-nilly skips over the environmental impact
assessments of concerns that appear to require assessment under an Environmental Impact Review.
No mention of an earthquake fault running through the property; and remarkably, in Table Two
(below on bottom of this page), concern with sun glare reflecting off of the 7-foot metal frames that
was in the original Hoffman application, was apparently resolved in the Soitec application by placing
the photovoltaic panels high in the air to track the sun. County slants and appraises
everything as not having any significant environmental effect(s); therefore, streamlining
the county's self-serving interests in not having to handle, as the lead agency, an otherwise
Page 4 of document.
Newberry Solar 1 layout
Simply look at the sun glare in the photographs
(above) of a Soitec photovoltaic sun tracker. . .
then picture the glare
from all of these at once.
The County's verbiage pertaining to the aesthetics of the project reads
more like a Carnival Cruise Line brochure than an objective site description.
So many things appear to be mishandled by the county.
For instance, the column pedestals that are being buried in the ground to support the
photovoltaic panels are reportedly being placed 15-feet deep; yet upon the future
decommissioning of the project, the county is only requiring that the first 3-feet of
the columns from the surface be removed. That can be a massive savings to the project's
owner; and a nightmare and hazard to an unsuspecting future landowner who might try to install
a septic tank, trench sewer or utility lines, or grade the property.
Why is the county bending over to accommodate the solar developer and
not doing its job to protect the community and the safety of its citizens?