Environment

Board of Supervisors Approves Borrego Springs Solar Farm Project

The County Board of Supervisors Wednesday approved a permit to build a 308-acre solar farm in Borrego Springs that is expected to turn sunlight into enough electricity to power an estimated 19,000 to 21,000 homes each year.

The Board voted 4-0, with Supervisor Dianne Jacob recusing herself, to uphold the San Diego County Planning Commission’s Aug. 12 approval of the project’s Major Use Permit and reject an appeal of that decision filed by a Borrego Springs resident.

The project, dubbed “NRG Solar Borrego One” was created by a Carlsbad-based company, NRG Solar. Officials from the company told supervisors Wednesday they expect to break ground on the project by the end of this year, and that the plant could be up and running by next September.

The solar farm site is located roughly two miles north-northeast of Borrego Springs, near the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. County Department of Planning and Land Use officials said the solar farm site is located on fallowed farmland last used in the 1940s and 1950s.

Electric companies in California are required to provide 33 percent of the power they produce through renewable sources such as solar energy and wind power by 2020. NRG Solar has signed a 25-year contract with San Diego Gas & Electric to sell the electricity generated by the farm to the company.

The Borrego Solar Project would consist of ground-mounted photovoltaic solar energy panels; converters to turn the sun-created electricity from direct current to alternate current; and a one-mile underground transmission line that would connect to SDG&E’s Borrego Valley Substation.

Carmen Garcia, superintendent of the Borrego Springs Unified School District, urged the Board to approve the project, saying that the school district hoped to partner with NRG to save electricity costs, create student mentorships and a possible technology endowment.

“Our ultimate goal is to arrive at net zero and save $200,000, (the cost) of 13 months of electricity bills, thereby saving teaching jobs,” Garcia said.

Supervisor Jacob recused herself from Wednesday’s vote, saying she owned stock in NRG Solar’s parent company, NRG Energy.

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact