BrightSource Energy, while receiving bad press for displacing or killing over 160 desert tortoises at its Ivanpah Solar project, is now complaining that the California Energy Commission (CEC) and US Fish and Wildlife Service are requiring it to conduct thorough bird and bat surveys for its proposed Rio Mesa Solar project. BrightSource on 27 February filed a document with the CEC objecting to the avian surveys, part of its ongoing protest of the environmental review process. Officials and citizens have expressed profound concern because the Rio Mesa Solar facility would be built along the Colorado River in a key bird migration corridor known as the Pacific Flyway. The facility would also be located near the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, which hosts 288 species of birds. A past study has indicated high rates of avian mortality at power tower solar facilities, and State and Federal officials are keen to understand whether or not Federally protected raptors and migratory birds fly over or forage on the site.
In addition to the migratory birds and raptors, biologists believe that the special status Gila Woodpecker may inhabit palo verde and ironwood woodland on the site, in addition to Western Burrowing Owls and Desert Tortoise. Apparently BrightSource Energy feels that it should be allowed build a 9 square mile facility that creates super-heated air where thousands of birds pass each year without proper review.