The Agricultural Benefit account has already accumulated funds from the Solar companies and has a more pressing need for an advisory board to manage the millions. The Community Benefit account will not receive any funds until the solar plants generate and then sell electricity. The board also felt that the response by the public to sit on the Community Benefit Advisory group was thin and they were hoping to get a larger number of respondents before making the final decision.
On January 24, 2012, the Board of Supervisors adopted a Resolution establishing guidelines for the Public Benefit Program (PBP) for use with solar power plants in Imperial County. On June 26, 2012, the Board authorized the formation of ad hoc advisory committees for the PBP Agricultural and Community Benefit Programs and directed staff to advertise for applicants to fill those committees.
The Public Benefit funds are to mitigate the financial loss of agricultural work to the companies that derive their income from servicing fields taken out of production for thirty years for solar farms.
The Board previously directed that the Agricultural Advisory Committee would be composed of seven members; one appointed by the Imperial County Farm Bureau, one by the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers, one representing the cattle industry, two selected at-large by the Board of Supervisors, one from the Imperial County Agricultural Commissioner’s office and one from the County Executive Office. During the June 26 meeting, the Board discussed the possibility that the “at-large” positions might be filled from Imperial Valley College and the Desert Research and Extension Center (DREC). Following that direction, the Agricultural Benefit Committee would be made up as follows:
CEO Ralph Cordova/Andy Horne
Agricultural Commissioner Connie Valenzuela
IC Farm Bureau Larry Cox
IVVGA Wheeler Morgan
Cattle Industry IVC Bill Plourd
DREC Dr. Khaled Bali
IVC Dr. Patrick Pauley
Both the agricultural and community advisory groups will only make suggestions to the board. The board will have the final say on how the funds are spent to alleviate the loss of income to ag businesses from solar farms and to best fenefit the community at large.