If you walk across a Mojave Desert valley and find a nice perch on one of the surrounding mountains, you'll overlook a vast expanse of creosote bushes, blackbrush, yucca, and Joshua Trees. The ecosystem may look harsh, but it is teeming with life -- desert tortoises, bobcat, burrowing owls, bighorn sheep, horned lizards, sidewinder snakes, and kangaroo rats, bees, and specialized moths.
When energy companies show up, they see that expanse of nature as a bank account. The more they build on it, the more money they can put in their pockets. So when First Solar announced plans to build in the Ivanpah Valley of the northeastern Mojave Desert, it was obvious they had no appreciation for the fragile ecosystem, and simply saw a desert valley that could earn them money. There are plenty of areas throughout Nevada and California with already-disturbed lands, and there are millions of empty rooftops waiting for solar panels. But First Solar is ignoring these alternatives, and its two Ivanpah Valley projects -- Stateline and Silver State -- will permanently shut down a wildlife corridor, kill dozens of threatened desert tortoises, and imperil rare desert plant life.
The images below show the size of the proposed First Solar projects relative to familiar places. At the very bottom of this post is a map of the Ivanpah Valley depicting the actual locations of the proposed solar projects.
|(Click on image to expand) This Google Earth image shows the outlines for the Stateline solar (left) and Silver State solar projects (right) relative to the city of San Francisco.|
|(Click on image to expand) This 3D Google Earth image shows the outline of the proposed Silver State solar project right-of-way relative to downtown San Francisco.|
|An outline of First Solar's Stateline solar power project relative to downtown Sacramento. The project would blanket nearly 3.4 square miles of prime desert tortoise habitat in the Ivanpah Valley with photovoltaic (PV) panels.|
|(Click on image to expand) If First Solar's Silver State solar power project were put in the Grand Canyon, it would fill almost the entire vista from the Grand Canyon village on the South Rim, all the way to the North Rim.|