A reader of this blog posted a brief summary of the Ridgecrest Solar Power Project public workshop held 23/24 April to address questions about the proposed site on issues of water, soil, transportation etc (pretty much everything except biological resources, which will be covered on 3 and 4 May. See the original post here.)
What is striking is that the water usage of the Ridgecrest site, which is a dry-cooled plant (so presumably it is much more water efficient than other proposed solar sites) would still have enormous impacts on ground water. Ridgecrest's consumption of approximately 150 acre feet a year is dwarfed by the consumption of the proposed Abengoa Solar site near Barstow and Helendale, which would consume nearly 1,077 acre-feet per year.
If you could not make it to the 23/24 April Public Workshop, you can attend the 3rd or 4th May workshop focused on biological resources at Ridgecrest City Hall at 8AM.
Comment from Laura about the recent public workshops:
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The highlights were about water, of course: the basin is in critical overdraft and Solar Millennium's facility may lower the water table 40 feet in most of Ridgecrest over the 30-year lifetime of the project. This is bad. So Solar Millennium is looking at a cash-for-grass program with residents, through the local water district. Also a program of fallowing nearby alfalfa farms will be negotiated. Getting construction water from LADWP aqueduct will not work. Not enough tamarisk to pull to make a difference.
So even 150 acre-feet/year for operations is difficult to extract from the desert.
Other hot topics were how much the company is willing to pay for fire/emergency response from Kern County. Leaking Therminol vapors from the solar fields can ignite.
Dust control will be a big problem, especially during the 32-month construction period--7 million cubic yards of dirt will be moved. Residents were very skeptical the dust can be contained on windy days. Valley fever is an issue.
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