Monday, January 22, 2007

Company Eyes Collinsville as Prime Location for Power Projects

Company Eyes Collinsville as Prime Location for Power Projects
By Ines Bebea

COLLINSVILLE - David Papera's vision for the undeveloped 1,600 acres of land near Collinsville could turn the forgotten land into a hub for alternative energy resources.

Through his One Vision Park company, the aggressive plan includes a small port to be used by barges in the areas waterways, a plant that would turn woody or green waste into energy, a possible University of California campus to serve as a teaching and research facility for renewable energy and a think tank to address environmental issues, in addition to a foundation to fund environmental projects.

"The land is an enormous area that can be used for multiple projects researching renewable energy, biomass, solar and blue energy," Papera said. "The creation of such a project would bring national exposure to the county and to the state of California."

Proposed development plans aren't new to the area - which is located south of Fairfield, at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. In the past, planning committees have considered the land as a possible deep water port, but the idea was abandoned due to the site's isolation, lack of road access and infrastructure for a container marine terminal as stated in a report presented to the Seaport Planning Advisory Committee in 2002.

While many of the report's findings are still true, the Solano County Board of Supervisors voted in December to request $250,000 in federal money to look into possible land development.

Papera is counting on the recent national debate about global warming and the depletion of natural resources to showcase the potential of his project.

"We owe it to future generations to develop and nurture alternative sources of energy through science and technology," he said. "The world doesn't not have an unlimited supply of oil and natural gas. We need to start weaning ourselves of oil as a source of energy."

While he understands the lack of infrastructure has halted other projects, Papera is focused on the bigger picture.

"The infrastructure is something that the supervisors will have to discuss," he said. "But we want to set the table of what can be accomplished."

Energy sources

Energy consumption in the U.S. is heavily based on fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas.

Those sources will still provide the same 86 percent share of total U.S. energy supply in 2030 as they did in 2005, according to the Energy Information Administration. That is despite two expected events - rapid growth in biofuels and other non-hydroelectric renewable energy sources and the first new nuclear power plants ordered in more than 25 years.

"Alternative energy resources are essential in California and the world to meet the demands of a 21st century society," said Richard Hamond, a partner with Hamond and Associates and a consultant for One Vision Park. Hamond is an attorney who specializes in environmental land use and was a senior energy adviser during Jerry Brown's gubernatorial administration. "So the opportunity to have a park for renewable energy at a high scientific technology level is a very exciting one."

While national consumption of alternative energy from wind, solar and conventional hydroelectric sources hasn't reached 10 percent of total energy use since 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District sees Papera's plan as a step forward in its own quest to increase wind energy production.

SMUD has windmills on the higher elevations of the property as part of its agreement with Papera, who bought the land in December 2002 from Dow Chemicals. In the agreement Papera sold the land to SMUD on the condition he could buy back the land not used by windmills. Papera is working on repurchasing the land back from SMUD.

"We want our third wind plant to create 105 to 125 megawatts of additional wind energy," said Paul Bender, manager of power generation for SMUD. "Our goal is to have 23 percent of our energy production created from an alternative source by 2011."

Currently, only 13 percent of SMUD's energy is produced by an alternative source.

As the demand for energy goes up with more expansion in the county, the demands and competition for other sources are higher as well, Bender said.

SMUD's windmills and the possibility of the One Vision Park project in Solano County are part of California's role as a trendsetter in environmental awareness and alternative energy resources, Bender said.

"It's getting harder to find other sources of energy, and wind energy after hydroelectric energy is the least expensive," he added. "In California we are more aggressive in our search for alternative sources compared to the rest of the country."


But while Supervisor Michael Reagan considers renewable energy creation a sound venture, his interests are more directed to job creation in Solano County and reversing the commuter trend.

"Right now we have 43 percent of our residents going out of the county for work," said Reagan, who represents Collinsville and the surrounding area. "This project would create jobs in the county."

For Reagan, reversing the commuter trend means people would be able to spend more time with their families, work in the county where they live and use ferries to eliminate traffic on the road.

Reagan is aware the existing infrastructure on the site is very limited, but added the benefits for energy and employment make it a viable project.

"Right now there are about 50 to 60 people that live in the area of what was in the 1800s a resort town," Reagan said. "There has been no development outside of the windmills by SMUD."

The development is tentatively concentrated about 2 to 5 miles from Collinsville. Papera's development doesn't include any residential or commercial plans.

"The proposal by Papera is something to discuss," Reagan said. "Having a small port where people use ferries to get to the plant or campus would ease the stress on our roads buy taking trucks and cars of the roads. That is a definite plus."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or


California's major sources of energy, as of 2005:

In-state 37.22 percent
Alaska 20.99 percent
Foreign 41.79 percent

In-state 78.33 percent
Natural gas 37.71 percent
Nuclear 14.47 percent
Large hydro 17.03 percent
Coal 20.07 percent
Renewable 10.73 percent
Imports 21.67 percent
PNW 7.04 percent
DSW 14.63 percent

Natural Gas
In-state 15.0 percent
Canada 23.0 percent
Rockies 24.0 percent
Southwest 38.0 percent
Source: California Department of Energy

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