Seley Ranch Installs World's Largest Solar-Powered Irrigation System
In December 2004, several newspaper articles[1] appeared describing Seley Ranch's acquisition of a solar-powered, irrigation pumping system and the economic and environmental advantages it offers.
Seley Ranch's solar-powered, irrigation pumping system admittedly has a couple of relatively minor societal/environmental benefits.  Its biggest benefit, however, accrues to Seley Ranch's bottom line:  It will provide free electricity and eliminate their very substantial cost of pumping groundwater
Another legitimate way of looking at Seley's new installation is, therefore, as a way to continue depleting our single source aquifer on the cheap.  Opting to invest in technology to reduce the cost of energy rather than in means of reducing water use removes the significant incremental cost of power.  That in turn removes the growers' only real incentive to conserve water because it was, in effect, "pre-purchased" by a large investment in a cost-free way of pumping it.  That, in turn, makes it the functional equivalent of an all you can eat buffet  To add insult to injury, government incentives and tax breaks funded by American taxpayers reduce Seley's cost by two-thirds. The government's largess will greatly shorten the time to break-even for Seley, at which point the mining of our precious and fast disappearing groundwater becomes free and unfettered for the ranch.
So, while there is a very modest advantage for the regional environment and SDG&E and a significant one for Seley Ranch, the rest of us in Borrego are paying dearly for them in scarce groundwater.  Anyone who understands the situation in and cares about our enchanted valley will find it exceedingly difficult to view this development as anything but a more cost efficient way of looting the commons

[1] Borrego Sun, 2 December, p. 2; and 16 December 2004, p. 3. San Diego Union - Tribune, 11 December 2004, NorthCounty, p. 1.
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12/20/2004


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