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Around Kings County

Base Commander Tells Growth Projection – Solar Plan

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 11.41.51 AMNAS Lemoore base commander Monty Ashliman in a presentation to the Lemoore City Council June 8 said to expects growth of 20% in base personnel by next year as Lemoore will be home to almost 60% of the US Navy’s strike fighter power.The projection is that NASL will add some 2300 personnel with the realignment of two VFA squadrons and the arrival of the first new F-35Cs in January. A total of 150 F-35Cs are expected to be based here by 2025.
Captain Ashliman also referenced the plan to be add 150 megawatts of of solar power on some of its surplus land, a project that was announced last fall as the US military seeks to generate 50% of its power needs from renewables. Lemoore would be largest solar plant on US military land. Ashliman says the power will be sold to the grid as the base needs just 20MW to power the facility.

Solar Appeal Going To BOS

Despite approval by the Planning Commission June 6 a labor group is demanding a new study of a planned solar facility here, appealing the project’s conditional use permit to the Board of Supervisors. Arizona-based First Solar wants to build a 125 MW solar facility on Hwy 198 across the road from NAS Lemoore.Formerly known as GWF Energy’s Henrietta Solar, proposed in 2010, the development now carries the name American Kings Solar. First Solar acquired the right to build the project in 2015. California Unions for Reliable Energy (“CURE”) is the labor group .County planner Sandy Roper says now staff needs to prepare the administrative record for the hearing. Everything that needs to be done is “massive”, he quips, meaning the BOS hearing will not be soon. The Planning Commission agreed with staff that the existing environmental study needed no update to be adequate,rejecting CURE’s assertions. Modifications are minor the staff suggested, including the plan to run sheep between the solar panels  to keep the grass down. First Solar now plans to build the project faster, in 15 months rather than 35.

Tree Deaths Give Local Biomass Plant Reprieve

The US Forest Service says the drought and a bark beetle infestation have devastated forest watersheds, killing more than 29 million trees in the foothills and Sierra Nevada. That’s up from 3.3 million trees in 2014. The dead trees can be seen in in southern Sierra watersheds  like Sequoia National Forest. Now at least one Fresno County biomass plant that would have been shut down next month will stay open until October to process trees that will be cut down this summer. Rio Bravo Fresno’s 25MW biomass plant burns woody waste to generate power for PG&E.But like most the biomass facilities in the state Rio Bravo planned to close after the expiration of the PG&E contract because the new rate would be “uneconomical.” However the Governor’s emergency proclamation a few months ago has pressed this plant into service extending the current contract until October. Rio Bravo is processing 4000 tons of wood waste a month as of April. A second northern California biomass plant is getting the same deal. Tulare County plans to cut some 36,000 trees this summer using a state grant to help pay the cost. Without removal fire officials fear wildfires.

Auto Sales Zoom Here – Up 18 Percent in Tulare /Kings

First quarter auto sales are up 18% in Tulare/Kings Counties says Visalia auto dealer Don Groppetti. Citing a private report Groppetti notes that while the rest of California has slowed some. “We were late to the recovery party” and now may be late to feel any downturn. Asked if truck sales are still the top growth sector he says that compacts and SUVs appear stronger than a year ago.
Statewide the California New Car Dealers Association reports light vehicle registrations were up 3.8% for the first three months of 2016  compared to 13.6% for the same quarter a year ago. They predict a market trend “on an upward path for at least the next 12 months.” Expect sales of 2 million units in 2016.

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