The Sierra Solar Farm project team is dedicated to providing access to clean renewable energy via a community solar farm. Mariposa California is a large rural county in Northern California and our county boundaries contain all of Yosemite National Park. The town of Mariposa has roughly 2,200 residents and the county population is about 20,000. The latest HUD data suggests that 33.85% of country residents meet the LMI criteria. Our rural residents face many obstacles to solar ownership including financial limitations, structural constraints, and the shading of oak and conifer forests and mountains. Our proposed solar farm program will enable participation at very small price increments representing fractions of a solar panel. We intend the program to have advantageous pricing to encourage maximum possible participation by low and moderate income families.
The Sierra Solar Farm project is designed around the creation of Energy Production Accounts with a low participation costs and reduced administrative fees for qualified LMI families. We also intend to focus on participation by school age youth in community. Civic organizations and schools will be able to award our youth with shares in the Sierra Solar Farm. We intend for ownership in the Sierra Solar Farm to reinforce the value of owning long term appreciating assets and demonstrate the ability to build towards personal energy independence.
The unique nature of our Energy Production Account program is intended to benefit lower income families, youth in our community, local non-profit organizations, and small businesses. The significant impact of this model will also be made as visible as possible and leverage our unique position as a small rural community with global visibility. Yosemite National Park is a World Heritage site and one of the most frequently visited eco-tourism destinations in the world. Highway 140, the road through Mariposa, is the only four season access route to Yosemite and our town hosts hundreds of thousands of day and overnight visitors each year. The National Park Service estimates that 1.43 million individuals access Yosemite via High 140 in 2016. All Sierra Solar Farm Energy Production Account owners will be provided with window clings and other signage that indicate their ownership of renewable energy production. We intend our program to be as visible as possible and special signage will be awarded to individual owners that achieve major milestones (10%, 25%, 50%, 100%) towards achieving energy independence. We will also enable our local tourism bureau to use the Sierra Solar Farm program in their global marketing program.
Team & Plan:
Our project team lead is Mark Rowney, General Manager of the Mariposa Public Utility District.
Our other team members include:
- Roland Winston Phd: Director of UC Solar
- Roger Powell: Executive Director of Mariposa Habitat for Humanity
- Nancy Fluharty: Development Coordinator for Sierra Foothill Conservancy
- Matt Forakker: Vice President of Yosemite Bank
- Brooke Hanner: Electrician and Owner/Operator of Offline Solar
- Ari Brouillette: Community Representative
Our plan is to implement our solar farm in phases of 100Kw and we expect to be able to implement at least three phases. Our team has several promising locations identified and strong technical implementation knowledge. We also anticipate widespread support from local civic organizations and county government that can assist us in driving community participation. We would use the Seed Award funds to work with a contracting company and Technical Assistance Providers that could finalize an administrative program that could ensure the greatest participation rate by LMI families and non-profit organizations. We feel that our program could be impactful for local families and youth that might not otherwise own solar energy production and also be highly visible to the many visitors to our small mountain town. Once implemented our program would also be able to scale in the event of continued local demand as well as being highly adaptable to other communities. We look forward to partnering with the DOE and making the Sierra Solar Farm a reality.