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Showing posts with the label Kit Fox

BrightSource Palen Solar Project Moving Through Environmental Review

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The California Energy Commission (CEC) this month published part of its Final Staff Assessment for BrightSource Energy's Palen Solar power project.  After evidentiary hearings this fall, the CEC plans to decide whether to approve the project proposed for the Chuckwalla Valley between Indio and Blythe, resulting in the destruction of up to 5.9 square miles of desert habitat that currently hosts kit foxes, Mojave fringe-toed lizards, and burrowing owls.  Biologists are concerned that the project would not only disrupt sand transport through the valley that sustains fringe-toed lizard habitat, but also pose a collision and burn risk to a variety of birds, from golden eagles to the endangered Yuma clapper rail.
The size of the project is difficult to imagine, so I provide a comparison of the project footprint (red overlay, below) to the city of Palm Springs.  BrightSource Energy says the facility would generate 500 megawatts of energy through steam boilers positioned on two 750-foot t…

Kit Foxes Die After Solar Developer Evicts Them From Dens

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NextEra Energy began construction last year on the 2.8 square mile Genesis Solar power project in California's Chuckwalla Valley.  The desert habitat was home to kit foxes, a mostly nocturnal animal that feeds on insects and small reptiles. According to the California Energy Commission (CEC), 65 active and inactive kit fox burrow complexes were found on the project site.
Since construction began, at least seven kit foxes have died of distemper, a canine virus that is spread through bodily fluids, including urine.  The virus is not known to be a prevalent problem for wild kit foxes, and the death of the animals on the project site came as a surprise to wildlife officials.  In an article written by Chris Clarke on KCET, he investigates the possibility that the foxes were infected by the virus after the solar company attempted to haze them from their burrows using urine from coyotes--the foxes' top predator.   Despite the construction activity going on around them, the foxes were…

CEC Staff Recommends Against Ridgecrest Solar Power Project

In the California Energy Commission's (CEC) Staff Assessment and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Ridgecrest Solar Power Project, the CEC recommended against the project, citing the potential damage to biological resources could not be mitigated.   Solar Millenium proposed building a 250MW dry-cooled solar energy plant on a 3,995 acre right-of-way just west of Ridgecrest -- approximately 2,000 acres would be disturbed for the site construction and operation.  Overall, the CEC Staff's recommendation is a very positive sign that the certification process can account for the need to preserve wilderness and biological treasures in the Mojave Desert.  Despite the Staff's assessment, the final decision will not be made until after the CEC holds evidentiary hearings and the presiding member makes a final decision.  The staff assessment is not a final verdict.

As mentioned in an earlier post examining preliminary biological surveys of the site, the Ridgecrest project w…