The Project Formerly Known as Solar One...

Updates on the certification process for two large-scale solar projects -- Solar One and Beacon Solar The  850 megawatt and approximately 8,000 acre solar project previously titled "Solar One" proposed for the Pisgah, California area (just east of the Interstate 40 and Interstate 15 Junction) has adopted a new name -- Calico Solar Project as proposed by the newly re-named Calico Solar LLC (formerly SES LLC).   You can read my December posting on the preliminary environmental impact statement for the Calico site, but the short and dirty is that the site is host to the endangered Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard and Desert Tortoise.  As of early January Calico Solar LLC  submitted additional information required by the California Energy Commission (CEC) for its application so we can expect to see more forward movement on the certification process.  They still have to submit a Desert Tortoise relocation and mitigation plan.  However, review of Calico LLC's documents from la

Mojave Desert Land Trust Offering Guided Hikes

The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is offering the public guided hikes, primarily in Joshua Tree National Park .  The hikes are $10 for MDLT members and $25 for non-members.  The late March hikes (during the predicted wildflower peak season) will probably go fast!  You can get more information at their website .


...Just one of many points of interest along the stretch of Route 66 that crosses through the Mojave Desert .  The town has seen better days, but Senator Feinstein's proposed California Desert Protection Act of 2010 (CDPA 2010) would place this town and many other places along the historic Route 66 within the boundaries of the Mojave Trails National Monument.  Ludlow was a water stop for the railroad as early as 1882, and also hosted miners with a hardy American spirit prospecting nearby hills for ore. While much of the debate surrounding CDPA 2010 in the coming year is certain to focus on a parochially characterized clash between environmental and economic interests, we should not forget that within the Mojave Desert lies our national heritage intertwined with a natural heritage.  American Indians, settlers, homesteaders, the economic migrants of the Great Depression, and generations of military recruits and test pilots have all experienced the vast open wilderness and harsh sol

Panorama Photos of Solar Energy Study Areas Available

As many of you are probably already aware, the Federal Government is proposing Solar Energy study areas, whereby the government has designated areas throughout the southwestern United States to evaluate for the suitability of future solar energy development.  The upside to this program is that it would ideally encourage energy companies to consolidate development in specific areas rather than scattered all throughout the Mojave Desert, although the jury is still out regarding the environmental impact on the specific sites chosen by the Federal Government. You can visit the website for the Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) here , and you can also view panoramic photos of the sites being evaluated here .  If you check out the photographs for Pisgah, California, you'll see plenty of old lava flows, which will most likely host the endangered Mojave Desert Fringe-toed lizard.  That said, the site is located near agricultural fields and not far

West Mojave Solar Proposal to be Water Intensive

Looking over the proposal for the Abengoa Solar's Mojave Solar project description indicates that this plant would use water cooling as opposed to the far more eco-friendly dry-cooling technology proposed in a number of other solar plants.  Just how much water are we talking about?  According to Abengoa Solar, approximately 1,077 acre-feet of water per year for each plant site.  There will be two plant sites.  I had to look it up myself, but a single acre-foot of water is equivalent to 325,851 gallons of water.  In total,  Abengoa's project would consume nearly 350 MILLION gallons of water.  I had to check my math twice. View Untitled in a larger map This is yet another sign of the immaturity of the solar siting situation in the Mojave Desert.  Companies are rushing to stake a claim without thinking about the impact of the project.  Abengoa was smart enough to locate their project on mostly abandoned agricultural fields, but they're making the same mistake as Beacon E

BLM Open House at Needles Field Office

For those that can make it, the California Energy Commission just posted a notice that the BLM will hold an open house at its Field Office in Needles, California to address questions regarding the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.  Copies of the Draft Final Staff assessment and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement will be available.  This open house will also be a good chance to pose some questions regarding the BLM's holistic approach toward utility-scale solar energy siting and how it plans to balance preservation of desert wilderness and renewable energy needs. The event will be held on 04 February, from 2-4 pm.  The point of contact for the event is Tom Hurshman, BLM Project Manager who can be reached at (970) 240-5345. The announcement is posted on the CEC website and you can read about the Ivanpah project debate in my previous posts .

Review of Riverside County Solar Projects in Initial Stages

The California Energy Commission (CEC) invited the public to view three proposed solar energy sites near Blythe, California.  The three projects include: 1.) Rice Solar Power Project (Solar Reserve LLC asking for approximately 1,370 acres) 2.) Palen Solar Power Project (Solar Millenium asking for 5,200 acres) 3.) Blythe Solar Power Project (Solar Millenium asking for 9,400 acres) It appears that Palen and Blythe will be the largest plants in terms of energy output (which usually equates to larger footprint in the desert, as well), and all three projects would utilize dry-cooling technology, reducing the amount of water taken from local aquifers. If you want to follow the proceedings of each CEC review process you can clink on either three of the links above and sign up for the corresponding list-serve, or you can check back here for updates as I plan to keep track of the processes myself.  You can read this posting from November for background on the CEC process as it applie