Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The CEC Staff’s Ridgecrest solar recommendation

It has taken a while but finally my eyes have uncrossed. I just finished
going through the 5 pdf files that are available online making up the
staffs’ recommendation, dealing with everything from hazardous waste
disposal to water requirements for the original project site, to siting
alternatives, and to the endangered species habitat to be destroyed by
the project- wow!

I think I had better not quit my day job, reading this much boiler plate
is real work, much tougher than driving around circles at Disneyland.

Don’t get the wrong idea, I did not read all 1,500 pages or so, but I did
skim over every paragraph of those pages. In actuality, I probably
read 200 of the pages or so, every word. I also was very impressed
with the tables, illustrations, maps, and the artist renderings of site
views from the different KOP locations, which helped put things in perspective,
as in actual area photographs with the proposed plant superimposed onto

In a nutshell, the staff concluded that the original site, north and south
alternatives, and final site pose too much danger to the endangered desert
tortoise and mojave ground squirrel, including to the species themselves
and the habitat, to be permitted to go through. And even with a 5:1 ratio
of habitat mitigation, it would not help as the circumstances of this habitat
are such that it is irreplaceable under any conditions, especially
regarding the MGS, due to the fact that no other site offers the connectivity
between the populated locations.

The staff report also pointed out the very high number of DT’s(9.8)per
square kilometer, among the highest in the west Mojave and that
this is a valuable genetic pool, especially considering if climactic
warming occurs, due to the higher elevation here that these individuals
have adapted to.

Also in the report, desert kit foxes and badgers were also noted in the
project area or nearby, and that this project would have a negative impact
on those species as well.

All in all, a devastating blow to the chances this specific location will be
approved in the end, but you never know how these things will play out,
I just wish they had made this kind of recommendation regarding BrightSource
Ivanpah :-(

One thing I noted in the report was the way they decided against using Garlock
as the alternative. The Garlock site which is on private, mostly depleted farm
land, in my opinion was a worthy alternative. But there appeared to be a lot of
concern over flood potential, among others, so it was never seriously thought
by the staff to be picked over the Ridgecrest location.

Now my fervent hope is that the CEC will turn down this project and declare the
area not suitable for solar siting, and that the status quo will remain, and that
the star parties can continue without any more interruptions for the next 100
years or so.

Only time will tell how it all will work out. What are your thoughts on all this? Care
to share them with the rest of us out here on the backporch? We’d love to hear
from you.

Look forward to hearing from you.


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