A solar power company agreed today to meet with north Modesto residents about a large project planned for north McHenry Avenue.
The board of the Modesto Irrigation District, which was set to vote on a purchase agreement for the power, voted to delay it for a few weeks.
Residents of Del Rio and nearby areas have raised concerns about the 25-megawatt project at the northeast corner of McHenry and Patterson Road. Some have suggested that the project, proposed for recently farmed crop land, instead be placed on lower-value grazing land.
Representatives of SunPower Corp. of San Jose, which would build and operate the system, said they are trying to set up a meetings in Del Rio and possibly other locations.
These would be informal meetings outside the state-required environmental review, which requires the proponents to look at the impacts. This process would happen after the purchase agreement is approved, and MID could have to seek alternatives if major problems are found.
The project, the district’s first major solar venture, would provide about 2 percent of its electrical capacity. It could be completed by spring 2011.
MID would pay SunPower an estimated $10 million a year over 25 years. That’s more than conventional sources, but it would help the district meet a new state mandate of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020. It is now at 12 percent, almost all of it wind.
SunPower aims to return to the MID board in early February for the power purchase agreement, said Jeff Dasovich, the company’s managing director of utilities and power plants.