Aramis Industrial Solar Power Plant

10 Reasons Why It Should Be Rejected


In February 2021 the Alameda County Board of Supervisor will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve or reject the Aramis industrial solar power plant proposed for agricultural land and open space in North Livermore Valley. Please contact the Supervisors today and let them know they should reject the Aramis plant.

1) The Aramis project will convert a significant portion of North Livermore Valley from an agricultural use into an industrial zone.

  • North Livermore Valley is one of the few unspoiled scenic corridors and agricultural areas remaining in Alameda County. The 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.
  • No solar power plant of the magnitude of the Aramis project exists in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over 320,000, eight-foot tall solar panels will spread across 400 acres of agricultural land on a total project area of over 700 acres. The project area is larger than Livermore Municipal Airport or the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory campus. 

2) The Final Environmental Impact Report finds that the Aramis project will have “a substantial adverse effect on a scenic vista.”

  • Even with the landscaping proposed by Aramis, the report concluded that the adverse aesthetic impact will remain “significant and unavoidable.” (Aramis Final EIR, at p. ES-7.)
  • Senior Alameda County Planner after reviewing the project wrote, “There is no way to hide this enormous project or protect the scenic quality of the area. It is a big, in-your-face project, and denial of that quality is disingenuous. In fact, the mitigation itself introduces new significant impacts that cannot be mitigated.”

3) The Aramis project will destroy productive agricultural land.

  • For months the corporate executives behind the massive Aramis project have denigrated the value of the agricultural land in North Livermore Valley, falsely claiming our soil is of poor quality and our land is rarely used for cattle grazing. 
  • In fact, the entire area where the Aramis project is proposed is identified as Prime Farmland If Irrigated by the Natural Resource Conservation Service. We hope one day to have access to irrigated water. In the meantime, as has occurred for the past 150 years, we grow oat hay which is used to feed cattle and horses. Our land is also extensively used for free-range, natural grass fed cattle grazing. 
4) The Aramis project will obliterate open space and environmentally important land. 
  • The construction of the Aramis solar power plant requires the grading, excavation, trenching and boring of the soil, followed by covering the land with 320,000 solar panels, inverters and a 5 acre battery storage system plus miles of internal access roads and fencing surrounding the project.
  • ABAG and MTC recognize the valley as a Priority Conservation Area. The land is used by foxes, eagles, owls and other predator birds to hunt field mice, rats, squirrels and rabbits. The Aramis project destroys this habitat and creates a barrier for the migration of wildlife among the nearby Doolan Canyon, Eagle Ridge, Cayetano Creek and Livermore Valley preserves that are safeguarded from development under conservation easements, undermining the biodiversity of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
  • Save Mount Diablo found the Aramis project “will result in permanent loss and conversion of upland habitat.” (SMD Letter, at p. 2) Likewise, the East Bay Regional Park District concluded the environmental impact report “did not adequately assess project impacts to biological resources, and therefore the identified mitigation measures are insufficient.” (EBRPD Letter, at p. 2)
5) Aramis refuses to provide any compensatory mitigation. 
  • Due to the likely presence of California endangered species within and surrounding the project area, including the California tiger salamander and California red-legged frog, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has “advised” Aramis to apply a California Endangered Species Act Permit. (CDFW Letter, at p. 12-13)
  • Aramis has offered no compensatory mitigation for the project’s destruction of habitat for sensitive species.
  • We believe the Aramis project should be rejected for multiple substantive reasons. The failure by Aramis and County planners, however, to recognize the need for compensatory mitigation serves as an independent basis to reject the project.
6) The Aramis project violates Measure D.
  • North Livermore Valley is one of the few remaining agricultural areas in Alameda County because countless persons and organizations spanning decades fought to preserve the valley. Their work culminated in Measure D, an initiative approved by County voters in 2000. Measure D can not be altered without a vote of the people.
  • The purpose of Measure D is to “preserve and enhance agriculture and agricultural lands, and to protect the natural qualities, the wildlife habitats, the watersheds and the beautiful open space of Alameda County from excessive, badly located and harmful development.” To permit North Livermore Valley to be blanketed by hundreds of thousands of solar panels strikes a dagger in the heart of Measure D. 
  • Specifically, Measure D prohibits the construction of new infrastructure on agricultural land beyond the needs of the East County. The Aramis project will be connected to PG&E’s power grid and deliver 75% of its power to San Francisco.
7) The Aramis project violates the Zoning Code.
  • North Livermore Valley is designated an agricultural district. Neither the County General Plan nor zoning code authorize utility-scale solar facilities in rural areas.
  • To the contrary, under the zoning code, agricultural districts are reserved for “agricultural and other nonurban uses [and] to conserve and protect existing agricultural uses . . .” Commercial electricity generation is not an agricultural use of the land.
  • County officials, however, assert that that the Aramis project does not violate the zoning code because over a decade ago the county approved a small (2 MW) test solar facility for farmland in an isolated area of far eastern Alameda County. The facility was never constructed.
  • The County’s legal reasoning is grossly flawed. It would mean that the approval of a single small project constituted an amendment to the zoning code permitting utility-scale solar power plants anywhere on agricultural land in Alameda County without notice to property owners and a public hearing.
8) The Aramis project introduces a new wildfire risk to North Livermore Valley. 
  • The Aramis projects calls for the installation of thousands of flammable lithium-ion batteries stored in trailer-truck size stations on five acres at the site plus multiple overhead electrical transmission lines mounted on towers, some 10 stories tall.
  • While rare, fires at lithium-ion battery stations have occurred worldwide including one last year in Arizona due to a defective battery that sent nine first responders to the hospital. Aside from the visual blight, the environmental report for the Aramis project notes that “damage to the overhead distribution lines from fallen trees or high wind and storm conditions could cause live wires to fall onto nearby dry grass and potentially start a fire.”
9) Alameda County did not conduct the environmental review in a neutral and transparent matter. 
  • Aramis was allowed to review and seek changes to County documents prior to their release to public. The lead planner on the project admitted in an email exchange with his colleagues that he “dropped” a critical sentence in a key document “that gave Marisa [Mitchell of Aramis] so much grief.”
  • This deletion resulted in the inclusion of sensitive land within the Aramis project that the Planning Department had previously maintained was restricted from solar power development.
10) The Aramis project is unnecessary for Alameda County to produce greater renewable energy. 
  • Unlike Contra Costa and Santa Clara Counties, Alameda County has never conducted a study on the locations, if any, in rural areas where utility-scale solar power plants would pose the least impact to agriculture, open space, sensitive species and visual resources. 
  • Furthermore, far greater solar energy than will be produced by the Aramis project could be generated by widely installing solar panels on rooftops of commercial and industrial buildings and over parking lots across Alameda County.   

Take Action: Contact the Board of Supervisors Today To Save Our Valley

Click here for an easy to use link to contact the Alameda County Board of Supervisors with talking points of your use. 

Public Agencies & Environmental Groups Critical of Aramis Project &/or County Planning Process

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Us

Visit our Contact Us page to ask us any questions, request a free Save Our Valley sign and join the effort to save our valley.

Sign up for our newsletter

Subscribe