County's largest solar array planned near Cloverdale

Cloverdale, one of Sonoma County's perennial hot spots, soon may be home to a huge solar array to harvest some of that plentiful sunshine.

A solar development company last week applied to install a three-megawatt photovoltaic system in the hills west of town, in what could be the largest solar array to date in Sonoma County.

The project is proposed on 20 acres off Kelly Road on an old wood-waste dump, considered undesirable for farming or vineyards.

"This wouldn't even make good pastureland," said Craig Furber, whose family owns the property. "This is a wonderful use for it."

The $12 million project is being proposed by Cenergy Power, a Merced- and Carlsbad-based company that specializes in solar installations for agricultural uses, including pistachio, almond and fig processing facilities.

The company, a division of BAP Power Corp., is planning to lease the land from the Furber family to generate the electricity and sell it to PG&E, by tying into its nearby distribution lines.

The amount of sunshine in Cloverdale "is not as good as Phoenix, Arizona. But it's still pretty good production, especially in summer," said Chad Chahbazi, Cenergy director of business development.

The company said the project has the potential to be a blueprint for temporary, distributed power photovoltaic systems on less productive lands in Sonoma County and other parts of Northern California.

The Cloverdale project would be dwarfed by huge solar arrays encompassing hundreds of acres in Southern California and parts of the Central Valley.

But in Sonoma County, it might be the largest so far.

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