Brightsource Attempts to Address Biological Concerns

BrightSource Energy--the company seeking to build a large solar electric generating system in the Mojave's Ivanpah Valley--submitted an alternative configuration for its proposed site in an attempt to address environmental impact concerns.  According to a press release on the company's website, the facility would be 12% smaller than the original proposal and would produce 392 MW of energy instead of 400 MW.  The alternative configuration has not yet been posted in detail on the California Energy Commission (CEC) website, but when the details are available you can expect an updated post on this blog.

According to BrightSource, the reduced facility footprint would avoid an area of the original site judged to contain the highest density of rare plants, leave the largest ephemeral washes intact, and reduce the need for desert tortoise relocations by 15%.  The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Ivanpah estimated 25 tortoises inhabit the site, but the actual number could be as much as 3 or 4 times higher, as a commenter from Basin and Range Watch pointed out on a previous blog post.  It's not clear if Brightsource is basing it's estimated relocation need on this potentially inaccurate survey.

Copied below is an excerpt from Brightsource's press release, which can be found in its entirety on the company's website.

From BrightSource: "The mitigation proposal for the Ivanpah project is a direct response to comments and suggestions made during the Ivanpah permitting process’ public comment period. If accepted by the CEC and BLM, the alternative design would:
•    Reduce the footprint of the third Ivanpah plant by 23 percent, avoiding the area identified by environmental groups during the public comment period as posing the greatest concern.
•    Reduce the footprint of the overall Ivanpah project by about 12 percent 

•    Reduce expected desert tortoise relocations by approximately 15 percent (based on previous
protocol surveys of the project site; the actual number will depend on where tortoises are at
the time they are relocated)

•    Avoid the area identified as having the highest rare plant density 
•    Reduce the number of towers at the third Ivanpah plant from five to one; reduce overall
number of towers at the Ivanpah project from seven to three 

•    Reduce the potential maximum number of heliostats by about 40,000 
•    Avoid the area that would have required the most grading and large rock removal in the solar
fields 

•    Leave the largest natural stormwater features (washes) in the northern portion of the site
intact

•    Reduce the total gross capacity of the Ivanpah project from 440 megawatts to 392 megawatts"

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