A major solar-generation farm being proposed off O’Byrnes Ferry Road would be the largest such facility yet in Tuolumne County.
Solar energy company Ecoplexus Solar Solutions is applying for permission to install almost 6,000 solar panels in western Tuolumne County, according to the county Community Resources Agency.
The project site is on 14.6 acres of rangeland visible from O’Byrnes Ferry Road, nestled just east and southeast of the Sierra Conservation Center and west of the Table Mountain Quarry.
The panels — affixed to 100 mounting structures — would generate enough electricity to power 500 homes.
Each panel and support system is expected to be up to eight feet tall, and the entire facility will be protected by a fence to keep unwanted people out.
The project is unusual in that it is one of the first to make use of a new California Department of Conservation program that encourages renewable energy.
The program allows land preserved as agricultural land through the Williamson Act to be used for solar generation.
The act provides property tax exemptions to encourage farmland and open-space preservation.
According to the state Department of Conservation, this is the second solar project that has been proposed through the state program.
A third is also under review.
Mike Laird, Community Resources Agency deputy director, said there aren’t any other solar projects of this size in the county.
“You have to demonstrate the land that you want to do (the project on) isn’t really great agricultural land,” Laird said.
The application states that up to three full-time employees will work at the solar farm.