SMUD Country Acres Solar Project
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is proposing the Country Acres Solar Project which would construct a 1,170-acre photovoltaic (PV) commercial solar power and battery storage renewable energy generation facility in southwestern Placer County. The project would be located just west of the City of Roseville, north of Baseline Road and east of South Brewer Road. SMUD, as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Lead Agency, has prepared an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed Project, which was adopted by their Board of Directors on April 20, 2023. The EIR and other environmental documents as well as project description information can be found on SMUD’s website: smud.org/ceqa
Since land use entitlements requiring discretionary actions are required, Placer County is acting as a Responsible Agency under CEQA. The following entitlements are required for the proposed Project:.
• Conditional Use Permit: The majority of the parcels associated with the project are zoned Farm combining minimum building site of 80 acres (F-B-X-80) and Specific Plan – Regional University Specific Plan (SPL-RUSP). Commercial solar facilities are permitted in the Farm zone with a conditional use permit.
• RUSP Amendment and RUSP Development Agreement Amendment: The portion of the project located in the RUSP area must comply with the Regional University Specific Plan or propose an amendment to the RUSP. To site such a use, the project proponent is required to complete the University Site Review Process. Because Regional University is not prepared to complete a campus master plan and SMUD does not intend to complete the University Site Review Process for construction of the commercial solar project, SMUD is requesting the following Amendment (underlined text) to RUSP, page 10-3 10.2.4 Subsequent Conformity Review:
A Subsequent Conformity Review Questionnaire (SCRQ) shall be submitted to Placer County in conjunction with the application for any discretionary development entitlement, such as a tentative subdivision map, conditional use permit or other similar entitlement, for individual projects within the RUSP and also as part of the Campus Master Plan and University Site Review process, for any uses other than an electric generation plant project, which requires a conditional use permit. The purpose of the SCRQ will be to enable the County to determine if the proposed project is consistent with the Specific Plan and to examine if there are project-specific effects that are peculiar to the project or its site that were not considered in the Specific Plan EIR, or if an event as described in CEQA Guidelines Section 15162 has occurred.
SMUD is also requesting the following Amendment (underlined text) to the RUSP Development Agreement page 5-1 5.D Development Standards and Permitted Uses:
The University Campus (Parcel 29) will require a site-specific master plan for review and approval by the County prior to improvements on the campus site. Land uses permitted in the University District will be determined during the Campus Master Plan process as described in Section 10.2.4 of the Regional University Specific Plan, for any uses other than an electric generation plant project, which requires a conditional use permit. The University is planned as a “full service” campus that will have typical features and academic uses similar to a major university of national stature.
• General Plan Amendment: Portions of the Project would be located within the 100-year floodplain. As a result, SMUD is requesting a General Plan Policy Amendment to revise Policy 8.b.1.6 and to add a new Policy 8.b.1.13.
The amended Policy 8.b.1.6 would read as follows (new text shown as bold):
New construction shall not be permitted within 100 feet of the centerline of permanent streams and within 50 feet of intermittent stream, or within the 100-year floodplain, whichever distance is greater, or as allowed in Policy 8.b.1.13.
The new Policy 8.b.1.13 would read as follows:
Long-term, nonpermanent solar electric generation projects proposed by a Public Utility with a conditional use permit, are allowed within the 100-year floodplains west of State Route 49 as long as any impacts to the floodplain, vegetation and wetlands are less than significant and comply with all applicable floodplain requirements; grading and increases to water surface elevations of the base flood are minor; the stream is not anadromous fish bearing; and that floodplain depths and velocities do not generate forces that exceed the proposed anchoring of the flood proofed panels and other components in order to prevent collapse and/or movement of the improvements within the floodplain.