The good news came just as it started to rain. In this drought prone land, Ranchers Julie Sullivan and George Whitten could not be happier when they received the call that Tessera Solar had withdrawn its bid to construct a 1,525-acre industrial solar power plant in the midst of their centennial ranching community.
They, and dozens of other Saguache County ranchers and citizens have been fighting the massive installation of 8,000 forty-foot hydrogen-fueled dish Stirling SunCatchers, for more than two years.
As reported in the Pueblo Chieftain, "Tessera's original proposal failed to meet state limits for noise and drew sharp criticism from county residents for its effects on neighboring property, wildlife and the environment".
"Now we can focus on what we do want, rather than fighting ill-borne projects generated by those who care nothing for rural places" said Sullivan, in an email to members of the San Luis Valley Renewable Communities Alliance (SLVRCA), the citizen group that worked to stop the destructive project.
"There are ways and means to utilize and increase the value from our resources, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for all of us, without sacrificing the livelihoods and properties of any of our neighbors", said Alliance board member Chuck Tidd.
Tidd and others in the Renewable Communities Alliance are working to develop solar gardens in Saguache County and create a roadmap for the San Luis Valley to become a model of energy self-sufficiency in Colorado rather than the State's first industrial solar sacrifice zone. But they admit it will be a long, uphill battle.
"Tessera is the first industrial solar proposal to get this far in Colorado, and even though this particular technology and company failed, it won't be the last", said RCA founder Ceal Smith. "If the utilities and 'Big Solar' industrialists have their way, all of Colorado's solar energy will be generated here", said Smith. "The San Luis Valley may have slightly better insolation, but the cost of new transmission lines and inefficiencies of moving electricity hundreds of miles to demand centers makes utterly no sense, unless you're a utility company with a legislative blank check for new infrastructure", said Smith.
In, Democratizing the Electricity System, a new report from the Institute for Self-Reliance, John Farrell makes the case that "wind and solar are available everywhere, and renewable energy can be economically harnessed at small scales across the country, state and community" through distributed generation, while saving ratepayers billions, spurring energy efficiency and renewing local economies.
"This is the model for the future that we'd like to see the San Luis Valley be a leader in, rather than more of the outmoded, centralized old energy model that no longer works for our communities, economy or environment", said Smith.