Initial Ridgecrest Solar Workshop Read-Out

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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  1. I highly recommend to anyone phoning into the May 3 and 4 workshops in Ridgecrest if you can, from the list of experts who will be attending it will be highly contentious. Desert tortoise and Mojave ground squirrel biologists will be debating on the fate of the project.



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