Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Solar Done Right blasts BLM Public Lands Solar Policy


Dave Beaulieu said...

Ceal, Thanks for forwarding the article "Go big or go home..." I'm with Pete Maysmith of the CCV when he says "It’s not an either or choice, that we only put solar on rooftops or on people’s homes or do utility scale, large projects.” “[Utility-scale solar has] got to be environmentally sensitive and we have to take things into account like habitat for species, water, sight lines, views and transmission. It needs to be done thoughtfully and carefully, but absolutely public lands are one of the places we ought be looking at to do renewable energy development.”
I've sent my comments on the PEIS to the BLM.

Ceal Smith said...

Thanks Dave, I wish I could agree but in following the permitting of Big Solar projects on public lands in CA, the big problem we see is that these massive power plants (4,000 acres on average) cannot, and will not, be done "thoughtfully and carefully" or in an "environmentally sensitive" way. Remember, its the same "old energy" interests, BP, Chevron, et al, who are invested in Big Solar. In the EIS's reports you see multiple impacts are deemed "unmitigatable". The only way they can be permitted is through agency invocation of "categorical exclusions" (CE) overriding long-standing environmental protections like the Endangered Species Act, to legally permit these projects. This, of course will result in long, drawn out lawsuits which we're already seeing on 7 of the 10 projects permitting so far). The CE was based on an assumption that we need these projects to combat global warming, but there is NO scientific evidence to support that. In fact, UC Riverside soil scientists are worried that Big Solar could result in a net INCREASE in carbon over the long run. It's a lot to take in, but people really need to understand that the footprint of Big Solar is enormous - difficult to even imagine and NOTHING like the SunEdison plant (a very good model for how to do solar right). Multitudes of smaller (<50MW) solar PV in the built environment (or on already developed lands like the EPA suggests) avoids all these problems and can be deployed MUCH faster and more cheaply, while creating more jobs. Even the PUC renewable energy expert agrees with us on this. OK, enough said, but people need to know the full story in order to make an informed decision.

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