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Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 9:47 AM

With construction almost finished, there will be 1,080 solar panels on six steel-framed banks that are nearly 500 feet long standing 13 feet high. Two rows of panels are along one property line and four rows are feet away from another property line.

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By Richard Paloma Staff Reporter

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POSTED March 9, 2016 10:50 a.m.

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For 60 years, Carl Porter has enjoyed sitting and gazing into the wooded area surrounding the property of his Stearns Road home. What he described as a serene park setting with the occasional grazing deer, has now been disrupted with banks of 13-foot high solar panels installed just a few feet away from the property line he shares with the Oakdale Golf and Country Club.

While Porter and his nephew, Craig Porter, say they were never advised of the OGCC project's impact, the country club and contracted installer, 1st Light Energy of Manteca, state they've been trying to work with Porter for a resolution and have now "given up" and have the law on their side.

The U.S. solar industry has seen record-breaking growth over the last few years. While residential installations played a significant role, plots of solar fields have taken off as businesses, schools, and other organizations look to cut energy costs.

According to Porter, the family never knew of the installation project until construction started next to their 2.5 acre lot in January.

When Porter initially inquired, he was told the panels would only stand 3-4 feet high.

"We weren't happy about it," Craig Porter said, "but we figured we wouldn't have to see it."

When Porter went to the county office to look at 1st Light Energy's plans for the completed project, he was told the plans were continually being changed and there was no known plan for the end result.

Now, as construction is almost finished, the 3-4 foot originally described panels, now stand at 13 feet high and are spread on two sides of Porter's property.

Porter has learned that when the project is completed, there will be 1,080 solar panels on six steel-framed banks that are nearly 500 feet long standing 13 feet high. Two rows of panels are along one property line and four rows are feet away from another property line.

"He (Carl) basically had a park, deer and a view; there was no fencing along the property," Craig Porter said. "Now he has a solar farm to look at."

OGCC General Manager Rick Schultz said the country club entered into a contract with 1st Light Energy which did the permitting and construction planning. All the proper permits were acquired and inspections were done. The area selected was the only area the OGCC felt the panels, that will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs over their life span, could be installed

Schultz also said the area where the panels were installed wasn't as serene as described by Porter.

"The country club feels bad, but it was a dump pile back there," Shultz said of the area where club maintenance personnel would dump clippings, loose concrete, and other yard waste. "The country club put up bushes and trees to hide the view of the junk that was in his yard such as an abandoned boat on the ground right there."

Schultz said the OGCC has tried to be a "good neighbor" in the process with offers of a land swap as well as landscaping or a decorative fence to hide the panels. Schultz added that compensation has even been offered for their troubles, but the Porters seem to be fighting them "tooth and nail."

1st Light has also offered to install a solar system for Porter.

"It was more of a sales pitch," Carl Porter said of the solar offer. "Nothing different than if I had inquired about my own system."

Porter also said there was no offer of any cash compensation given to him.

The Porters have thought about a legal fight but feel defeated and don't want to "throw money at a lost cause" because of the Solar Act of 1978, which was created to aid and assist a new, fledgling solar industry.

Historically, so-called NIMBY (not in my backyard) fights have been waged to keep large-scale projects, such as landfills or major power lines, out of neighborhoods. But when these battles were spreading to things like wind farms and residential solar arrays, which have often already been installed, the Solar Act of 1978 was developed to bar restrictions on the installation of solar-energy systems. The Act was amended again in September 2004 by extending its prohibition on restrictions of interference from public entities.

"Besides, do you know how many local attorneys belong to that country club," Porter said about his experiences with lawyer consultations. "Many said they couldn't take the case because it was a conflict of interest."

Both Porters said they had other concerns of the project since it also backed up to US Army Corps of Engineers property and the panels could interfere with wildlife access to a river.

Craig Porter also wondered if their property would be subject to tree height or any land construction if it appeared to block the panels.

"Is the land basically going to become dormant?" Craig Porter asked.

Schultz said at this point he feels the Porters are dragging the OGCC through the mud with a number of news stories and negative publicity directed to the OGCC.

"It's not coming down," Schultz said. "It's protected, permitted, inspected - all done by legal means - and it's a done deal."

End of News Story

My comments: I say there is nothing to stop Porter from growing tall Afghan pines on his property that would reach 20 feet within a few years, and would effectively shut down the stupid solar project that should have never been located where it is the first place. This is just a bunch of rich anal orifice type A's shoving their weight around, bullying the folks. Don't take this lying down. OR build a giant smoke generator that has black smoke output, and only run it at night in the wee hours. The solar panels will soon have zero output. (I guess that might be considered sabotage, but who controls or knows which way the wind will blow on a given night. BBQ a lot more often, with all the neighbors right on the fence line, every time the wind is in the right direction. Screw the bastards, play them hard ball by their own game, and beat them. They all put their pants on one leg at a time. You know what you call an out of breath lawyer? Pants!

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#1

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 10:49 AM

I side with the solar/permit this time

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 11:52 AM

I like the idea of starting a pigeon farm next door to the solar panels. Those things belong on a roof, or out in the boonies.

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#8
In reply to #4

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 12:34 PM

I like the idea of the solar guy starting a skeet operation too

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#12
In reply to #8

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 1:51 PM

ROFLMAO!!!!

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#2

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 10:50 AM

I can relate to that.

We have condos 4 feet from our pool wall where before there was nothing.

The little man doesn't have a chance.

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#3

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 11:40 AM

If you want to own your view, you have to buy it....

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 12:10 PM

Yup, if you don't own it, you take your chances. And even if you do own it, you could get "Eminent Domained".

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#5

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 11:53 AM

That is one thing to always be involved in your town meetings....

That is the time to form you protest cast your vote. Normally "All in favor say "I".

Developer know this, and what they'll do is attend every meeting, and try to catch the showing that would be against their project at these towns meetings to be poor.

And it passes.

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#10
In reply to #5

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 1:22 PM

A developer tried to get a one-story by 400 ft shopping plaza near my house rezoned for 6 story condos. Somehow it didn't come up during the first zoning meetings that it was scheduled for. Then, when it did come up it was the last item on the agenda and was after 11:00 PM on a Thursday evening. They knew most of us that work for a living would not be there. The developer under estimated the surfers. Surfers present and zoning change shot down. Shopping plaza got reworked into a medical center and an engineering office. Everyone happy now.

Zoning change would have increased the value of the property by well over a million dollars without anything being done.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 1:46 PM

did ya at least buy the surfers a keg of beer??

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#13
In reply to #10

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 2:18 PM

I was raised on Wisconsin's peninsula, where we have shoreline on over 90% of the county's perimeter.

They did that all the time.

And the developers when they were buying land (shoreline property. and selling building sites.

They would sell the lots a few lots back from the shoreline. It was a beautiful view until they sold out, then they started selling the lots closer to the shore line... or build huge condominiums sites hence blocking the earlier buyers view.

And the condos were so packed and they did a chevron building style so each condo had a view of the bay.... sometimes you had to lean out a little over your deck to see the bay,... but it was a view of the bay.

The past 15-20 years beaches where being closed because of the pollution.... (Human waste)

Its as bad as Milwaukee at times.

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#7

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 12:15 PM

When he asked how tall is each solar panel it was a correct answer so say each panel stands only 3 or 4 feet high. If he looked at images of previously installed solar farms he would know the solar panels are always banked into larger arrays.

Whoever stated the arrays are nearly 500 feet long moved the decimal point adding 2700 feet to what is likely 288 feet of array. (48x6) is that an oops?

He has 2.5 acres to look at and modify near a golf course and now a nifty solar array. How am I supposed to feel bad for the guy?

boo friggin' hoo comes to mind.

Anything they offer to do is kind of them.

I'd request a regular tee time and generous access to beer at the 9th hole.

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#9

Re: Solar Panel Skirmish Front

03/10/2016 12:38 PM

Review local laws, zoning ordinances, view-restriction limits, covenants that might already be in place, etc.

Also, what is the great advantage to having higher but fewer arrays? Why did they design it that way?

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