Update: Planning Commission approves major Santa Barbara County solar project in Cuyama Valley
UPDATE: July 22, 2014 at 5:53 p.m.
The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to approve plans for a large solar project in the Cuyama Valley.
The proposal passed with a couple of amendments aimed at protecting California condors.
Jefferson Litten with the Community Environmental Council says public comment ran 19 to 2 in favor of the project.
The issue now heads to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
An effort to build a large solar project in the Cuyama Valley is going before the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission Tuesday morning.
The proposed 327-acre facility would have the capacity to generate 40 megawatts of power, enough to support roughly 15,600 homes.
Jefferson Litten with the Community Environmental Council says this is currently the area's best best for developing green energy.
"Certainly in Santa Barbara County we had the Lompoc wind project, but that project the developers have since abandoned the project, so this is really the largest utility-scale green energy project that Santa Barbara is currently considering," said Litten.
The area was chosen, in part, because of its high number of sunshine days.
A spokesperson with First Solar, the company behind the project, says if the Cuyama project clears all of the necessary approvals, then construction could begin early next year. Completion could come by the end of 2015 or early 2016.
First Solar is also behind the Topaz Solar Farms on the Carissa Plains, which is in the final stage of construction. When complete, at 550 megawatts, the system will be the largest photovoltaic solar project in the world.