STANISLAUS COUNTY — Today, supervisors will consider approving lease agreements for a solar farm proposed on county-owned acreage next to the Fink Road Landfill in western Stanislaus County.
Golden Hills Solar would pay the county $75,000 annually under a four-year agreement while it seeks a buyer for energy from the solar field.
Golden Hills was formed in April as a joint venture between California-based 8minutenergy Renewables and JKB Development, which leases 1,678 acres of almond trees and other county-owned land next to the landfill.
If the company secures a purchase deal for energy from the proposed 70 megawatt solar project, the lease will increase to $400,000 annually and Golden Hills will make other payments to the county under a 25-year pact, with options for two one-year extensions.
Over the 27 years, the county would receive $18 million in payments from the solar farm and the agricultural lease. Depending on its success finding buyers for the energy, Golden Hills could end up building a smaller solar project. A 20-megawatt solar farm would give the county $8.15 million.
If Golden Hills is not on a short list for a power purchase contract after two years, county officials can opt to cancel the lease agreement. Since December 2009, the county has approved agreements giving JKB exclusive rights to develop the solar project.
In December, supervisors approved a separate three-year agriculture lease with JKB for the 1,678 acres, which will pay the county $106,000 annually.
The solar lease being considered today is for the same 1,678 acres and would allow Golden Hills to install solar panels on no more than 600 acres. The county's property includes 333 acres of almond orchards, 979 dry farming acres, 354 acres for grazing and 12 additional acres.
The Fink Road Landfill uses about 220 of the county's 2,670 acres west of Crows Landing.
Officials believe a 175-acre landfill expansion is needed within 10 years and a 425-acre expansion within 30 years.
Keith Boggs, an assistant executive officer for the county, said it makes sense to explore opportunities for using the extra land until it's needed for garbage disposal.
According to a staff report, the privately owned 8minutenergy has projects that could generate 2,000 megawatts under development in the United States and is working on building 23 solar photovoltaic farms.
Stanislaus County supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. today in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, at 1010 10th St., Modesto. Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2321.