Mt. SAC, Walnut residents battle over large solar farm near homes

WALNUT, Calif. (KABC) -- Walnut residents and Mount San Antonio College are in an ongoing battle Tuesday over massive solar panels just yards away from neighborhood homes.

As one of the biggest community colleges in the state with an enrollment that can reach as high as 65,000 students, Mt. SAC needs a lot of electricity, and the proposed solution is an 11-acre solar farm.

"This is all part of Mt. SAC's goal to become energy independent," said Jill Dolan, a spokesperson for Mt. Sac. "We expect to save nearly half a million dollars in energy costs."

The hundreds of solar panels would be placed just off campus in the hills of Walnut, and nearby residents are not pleased about the proposal.

Mayor of Walnut Bob Pacheco said the college needs to apply for a conditional use permit to build the solar project, but Mt. SAC officials contend California's green energy ballot measure, Prop 39, clears the college to move forward without Walnut's approval.

"They're wrong!" said Pacheco. "Proposition 39 does not give them the authority to develop a solar project without being in conformity with the laws of our city."

Pacheco said the school's proposed solar farm may be retaliation for a previous dispute over building a parking garage on campus, but he said the city of just 30,000 is ready to take the college back to court.

"They shouldn't test our resolve," Pacheco said. "We may be tiny, but we're mighty!"
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