North Livermore Valley Is a Beautiful, Sustainable Agricultural Community. Its Future Is at Risk.
North Livermore Valley is an agricultural community with stunning views in all directions of pasturelands, rolling hills and distant mountains. The community is under threat from two proposed massive industrial solar plants. The East County Board of Zoning Adjustments for Alameda County will be reviewing the projects later this year.
The families living in the valley are ranchers and farmers, some living on land that has been owned by their families for generations. Under voter-approved Measure D, the dwindling agricultural lands, open space, watersheds and wildlife habits in east Alameda County, including North Livermore Valley, are to be preserved.
Dick Schneider, chairman of the Tri-Valley Sierra Club and co-author of Measure D, has stated that if Alameda County permits the construction of solar power plants in North Livermore Valley, more energy companies will move into the valley. “Pretty soon, that area is not going to have agricultural at all, Schneider told the Livermore Independent. “It’s just going to have large scale power plants, and the character [of the valley] is going to change.”
“Developing massive regions with a ‘sea of glass,’ as many have called the proposal, is a short-sighted response to meeting California’s energy goals. Let’s continue exploring alternatives for implementing solar in the Tri-Valley, because it doesn’t make sense to destroy the environment to protect it.” — “Utility-Scale Solar Isn’t Answer for North Livermore Valley,” Livermore Independent, August 5, 2020
North Livermore Valley is one of the few unspoiled scenic corridors and agricultural areas remaining in Alameda County.
Just a short drive or bike ride from the City of Livermore and north of Highway 580, the North Livermore Valley has been zoned for agricultural and rural residential uses since the 1950s. For nearly the same period Alameda County has recognized North Livermore Avenue in its General Plan as a scenic corridor and sought to preserve the area’s outstanding scenic quality.
This pristine open space and agricultural community is under threat. Two industrial solar power plants have been proposed by energy companies organized in Delaware for the northern section of the valley near Cayetano Creek on both sides of North Livermore Avenue and adjacent to Manning and May School Roads.
The power plants would dramatically and permanently alter the nature of the valley from open farmland to large-scale solar energy production.
The combined project area of the power plants is approximately 825 acres, a size greater than Livermore Airport or the campus at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. More than fourteen San Francisco Premium Outlets shopping complexes in Livermore would fit within the area of the planned industrial solar plants. Nearly 350,000 eight feet high solar panels will be spread across the landscape.
The impact of the two industrial solar plants would not be limited to one massive section of the valley. The scenic beauty and open space of the entire North Livermore Valley is at risk.
If approved, the two projects would create the precedent that industrial solar power plants qualify as appropriate uses of land zoned for agricultural and rural residential uses throughout Alameda County.
In a June 8, 2020, letter to Alameda County planners, Dick Schneider of the Sierra Club Tri-Valley Group stated that utility-scale solar energy operators are targeting the North Livermore Valley for additional projects near the two proposed industrial solar plants.
Within a decade, the North Livermore Valley as it has existed for centuries could be lost forever. Utility companies and other major corporations could sweep in, purchase ranches and farms and convert the valley into an endless, barren expanse of industrial solar power plants.
Click here to read the full set of reasons why commercial electrical power generation should not be permitted in the North Livermore Valley.
These projects are moving through the planning and review process. The Sunwalker Energy project will be reviewed first by the East County Board of Zoning Adjustments, likely on August 27, 2020.
The three members of the Board of Zoning Adjustments have the power to approve or reject the projects. The decision by the Board of Zoning Adjustment may be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.
Together We Can Save Our Valley
The scenic beauty, natural habitat and open space of the North Livermore Valley belong to all of us and must not be destroyed by for-profit corporations.
Families in the North Livermore Valley have joined together to create this website. We are dedicated to Land Stewardship, the use of land and natural resources in a responsible, sustainable manner.
We are mindful of the pressing need to address climate change. We support solar power and other forms of renewable energy. Construction of two gigantic industrial solar plants in North Livermore, however, would cause permanent, unnecessary and destructive change.
Significantly greater electricity could be generated by installing solar arrays over parking lots and on the roofs of warehouses and industrial buildings in the Tri-Valley region.
Please Join Our Effort! We invite the residents of the North Livermore Valley, City of Livermore and nearby communities, and all persons wishing to preserve the valley’s agricultural land, scenic beauty and open space to join us.