^From left to right Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and BrightSource CEO John Woolard holding the plaque. (Photo: Department of Interior)

Groundbreaking Ceremony

October 27, 2010 - Ivanpah Valley, California - 400 invited guests attended the official groundbreaking ceremony for the massive solar thermal power tower project that has been given the green light by Bureau of Land Management and the California Energy Commission. Work has already begun on clearing the desert of tortoises and installing fencing and perimeter roads, and today a plaque was presented to commemorate the beginning of construction.

Governor Schwarzenegger: "Some people look out into the desert and see miles and miles of emptiness," he said at the event for the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. "I see miles and miles of gold mine."

^Salazar and Schwarzenegger in tent at the Primm Valley Golf Course adjacent to the project site. (Photo: DOI)

^Secretary Salazar stands in front of a heliostat, one of 173,000 that will be placed on the desert behind him. (Photo: DOI)








^A desert-removing bulldozer is brought in.

Protesters Assemble

An impromptu protest of desert hikers assembled to oppose the project's location on tortoise habitat. At 3,471 acres, or five square miles, the project even though reduced now in size, is still as large as Key West FL, Brawley CA, or Machu Picchu in Peru. The protesters were not against solar energy or BrightSource specifically, but against the particular location on old growth Mojave Desert scrub at this site. They said disturbed land or private land could have been a better choice. They yelled "Solar on Rooftops - Not On Tortoise Shells!"


^Behind the protesters on the alluvial fan, a scraper-grader, bulldozers, and water trucks worked on the Construction Logistics Area of the project amidst the creosote.



^Bulldozer for pushing down the desert vegetation. Tortoises are dug out of their burrows before this machine comes through.

^One of three black SUVs with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger drives by the protesters on the way out.

^A recreational vehicle has a solar photovoltaic panel on its roof to light lamps inside, while parked next to the Ivanpah project.


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