Local residents were outraged in Contra Costa County recently when a contractor hired by the county for installing clean green energy ended up clearing over 100 eucalyptus and oak trees to make way for solar panels that will power a county jail. County officials weren’t too pleased either, calling the action outlandish and appalling. Supervisor Karen Mitchoff reportedly commented, “I cannot fathom why someone thought they could cut down all those trees.” The company in question is Main Street Power, and now land near the entrance of a popular park has been pummeled and all that remains are tree trunks and dirt. For further background, Mercury News reports:
“The board of supervisors authorized a contract in September 2010 with Main Street Power, a Boulder, Colo., company that develops solar power systems for nonprofits and public agencies. The county hoped to add green power to 13 of its public buildings, including the jail, both to reduce greenhouse emissions and cut county energy cost. The approved plan called for both rooftop-mounted and ground-mounted panels at the Richmond jail, but Gioia said the board did not anticipate chopping down trees on the adjacent property. County staff and the contractor made that decision without consulting elected officials or department heads, he added.”
Now the issue could turn into a legal dispute. The county says the company should restore a tree buffer between the jail and the regional park, but Main Street Power says it won’t fulfill such a request if the county doesn’t pay for it. Some may be glad the non-indigenous, fire-prone trees have been scaled back.