Bipartisan effort paves way for Tracy solar project

Two Central Valley congressmen from opposite sides of the aisle agreed on something and got it done.

Stop the presses!

Both Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, issued statements today praising a bill that President Obama signed into law Tuesday to grease the wheels for a solar-energy project in Tracy.

Jerry McNerneyTracy wanted to buy 200 acres of government land on Schulte Road as the site of a solar electricity-generation project, but Congress had conveyed the land to the city with the condition that most of it be used for recreational or educational purposes – a provision that held up the solar project for years. McNerney’s bill waived any remaining restrictions on the land’s use once it’s bought by the city.

“The City of Tracy will now be able to build a solar energy project that will create nearly 200 local jobs,” McNerney said today. “I welcomed this opportunity to reach across the aisle to pass this commonsense bill, especially in the current climate in Washington. I have been fighting for the City of Tracy on this issue from the beginning, and I am proud that we were able to come together to pass this bill.”

Jeff DenhamDenham noted the bill, which he cosponsored, passed unanimously through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and, Emergency Management, which he chairs.

“Investing in this type of job creation project is key to the Valley’s economic recovery. It’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democrat issue – it’s an American jobs issue,” Denham said. “Today’s accomplishment is the result of a collaborative effort by a bipartisan group of members who worked hard to see this bill become law. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues in the House and Senate from both sides of the aisle to put people back to work. I’ll keep fighting for jobs in the Valley as the solar project continues to advance.”

In fact, it was actually the Senate version of the bill – introduced by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and cosponsored by Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. – which made it to the president’s desk. Boxer last week said she’s pleased that Tracy officials “will now be able to move forward with their plan to develop land that has been vacant and unused. This is a wonderful economic opportunity that will bring needed jobs to the area.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.