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First Of Its Kind Solar Project

A new state law is paving the way for a potential solar farm to be built off O’Byrnes Ferry Road.

The company Ecoplexus out of the Bay Area has submitted an application to the Tuolumne County Community Resources Agency to install 5,976 photovoltaic solar panels over 12 acres of land. The property, owned by T-5 Ranches, is located on the north side of O’Byrnes Ferry Road, directly east of the Sierra Conservation Center. The solar array would be 450 ft. off the roadway.

“This project is expected to generate enough energy to fuel 1,500 homes,” says CRA Director Bev Shane. “This is the first time we’ve seen anything of this scale proposed in our county.”

Last year the state of California amended the Conservation Act, better known as the Williamson Act, to allow property owners to apply for solar easements on agriculture land. The T-5 Ranches project received the endorsement of the Tuolumne County Agriculture Advisory Committee late last month. The project documents have now been forwarded to state officials to ensure that it qualifies under the amendments to the Williamson Act. Assuming that it gets the state okay, the next step is to go before the Tuolumne County Planning Commission, and eventually the Board of Supervisors.

Mike Laird, Deputy Director of the CRA, has learned that this is the very first solar project that has been submitted to the state in relation to the changes made to the Williamson Act. He says because this project is the first of its kind statewide, California officials are still working out the details of the review process.

The entire parcel that the 12.6 acre solar farm would sit on is 307 acres.