Project Title: SEPV Cuyama Solar Photovoltaic Facility Conditional Use Permit
Case Number:  21CUP-00000-00020
Project Location: 1750 E. Betteravia, Santa Maria 93 149-150-033
Assigned Staff and Division:

  Katie NallEnergy, Minerals and Compliance Division


Status

The County reviewed the proposed project application and found it to be complete for further processing on June 29, 2021. The project is subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); therefore the County has prepared an environmental document in accordance with CEQA Section 15168(c) and the Santa Barbara County Guidelines for Implementation of CEQA. The project is scheduled to be heard at the October 6, 2021 County Planning Commission meeting.

Description

The request is for a Conditional Use Permit to construct and operate a solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery energy storage facility with the capacity to generate, store and deliver up to 3 megawatts (MWac) of renewable electrical energy during peak periods of production. The facility, called SEPV Cuyama, would be designed to operate year-round and would generate electricity during the daylight hours when local electricity demand from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) customers is typically at its peak. Electricity generated by the project would be interconnected to the PG&E electrical distribution system at an existing PG&E 21 kV line that runs north-south along the western boundary line of the property. The PG&E Substation is approximately 2.5 miles northwest of the SEPV Cuyama project site.

The major components of the facility would be PV modules, single-axis sun tracking support structures, battery storage, and electronic/electrical equipment. The PV modules would be mounted to steel support structures designed and installed to properly position the PV modules to maximize the amount of sunlight that can land upon their surfaces. The single-axis sun tracking arrays (a row of PV modules) would be oriented along a north-south axis to allow the PV modules to rotate from east to west in order to track or follow the sun's path throughout a day. These support structures would be mounted on foundations of steel beams or tubes directly embedded into the ground. The PV modules, at their highest point of the solar tracking during the day, would be less than nine feet above the ground surface.

The battery energy storage system would consist of lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery cells capable of storing up to 3 MW/14 MWh of electricity. To enhance space efficiency, the battery cells would be packed to form modules, stacked up in racks, and housed in containers with buried electrical conduit. The battery container is a power supply unit and peak management system. The battery storage system would be designed to charge during off-peak periods or when grid frequency increases and discharge during peak periods or when grid frequency decreases.

The direct current (DC) electrical output from the PV modules and storage would be transferred to inverters which convert the DC energy to high quality utility grade alternating current (AC) electricity. Electrical transformers would be used to boost the AC voltage output of the inverters to the 21 kV level required to interconnect to PG&E's existing overhead distribution circuit that runs adjacent to the west side of the project site. The energy produced from the SEPV Cuyama solar plant would be routed through an underground electrical line through a customer metering and switchgear unit, then to a PG&E metering and switchgear unit, and ultimately connect to the 21 kV PG&E overhead line.

The facility would be accessed from Brown Road with on-site perimeter and center line compacted dirt roads for fire access and facility operations. A six foot tall chain-link security fence with barbed wire would be installed around the perimeter of the site to restrict public access during construction and operations. A remotely monitored security system would be installed to discourage and record any incidents of vandalism and/or trespassing. The facility would be remotely operated, controlled and monitored and with no requirement for daily on-site employees. Local and remote operations and maintenance staff would be on-call to respond to any alerts generated by the monitoring systems, and would be present on the site periodically to perform maintenance. A part-time operations and maintenance staff of two to three people would be responsible for performing all routine and emergency operational and maintenance activities. Such activities include inspections, equipment servicing, site and landscape clearing, and periodic washing of the PV modules if needed (up to four times per year) to increase the performance of the panels.

The proposed solar project site lies to the east of the existing 40 MW Cuyama Solar Array project site. Grading would include 3,388 cubic yards of cut and fill to level the site. One eucalyptus tree and two scrub pine trees are proposed for removal.

Timeline

October 6,2021 Conditional Use Permit to be heard at County Planning Commission 
July 29, 2021 County Planning and Development determined SEPV Cuyama's application for a Conditional Use Permit to be complete. 
June 23,2021 SEPV Cuyama LLC submitted an application for a Conditional Use Permit for the Solar Photovoltaic Facility. 


Documents

CEQA Materials

Programmatic EIR (11EIR-00000-00005)

Permit Application Materials

Permit Application Package 


Additional Information

If you have any comments or questions, please contact the project planner Katie Nall via email (nallk@countyofsb.org).