One of the largest solar sites currently under review by the California Energy Commission (CEC)--the Blythe Solar power project--received final approval today. The site will disturb at least 7000 acres of habitat in the Colorado desert in Southern California, making it the largest site to be approved this year. The project will destroy sand dune habitat for the threatened Mojave fringe-toed lizard (at least 57 were spotted on the site), bighorn sheep foraging grounds, and nesting areas for the burrowing owl.
The Blythe Solar project, which is proposed by Solar Millennium LLC and is sited on public land just west of Blythe, would produce 1000MW of energy. However, because the Blythe Solar power project will be sited on sensitive habitat, Solar Millennium will pay at least $21,000,000 to mitigate for environmental damage. Solar Millennium may elect to pay these funds to the Renewable Energy Action Team's (REAT) mitigation fund, which will be put toward conservation in other parts of the Colorado desert.