Defending the Desert

 

  

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Protecting the Basin and Range Province

 

WELCOME

Basin and Range Watch is a group of volunteers who live in the deserts of Nevada and California, working to stop the destruction of our desert homeland. Federal and many state agencies and some local governments are seeking to open up millions of acres of unspoiled habitat in our region to industrial renewable energy development. Our goal is to identify the problems of energy sprawl and find solutions that will preserve our natural ecosystems and open spaces. We support renewable energy but advocate for better national and state planning.

Come visit and experience the great beauty of spring wildflowers, vast open vistas, bird watching trails, and wildlife viewing.

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Ivanpah Valley: Three Solar Projects

May 22, 2015 - San Bernardino County CA and Clark County NV - Our photos this month showing how largescale solar energy projects fragment Mojave Desert ecosystems: Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, Stateline Solar Farm, and Silver State South Solar Farm, >>here.

Crescent Dunes Solar Power Tower Flux

May 21, 2015 -Tonopah NV - Good photo (above) by Jack Freer taken this month showing the intense solar flux around the tower of the SolarReserve solar power plant, as tens of thousands of mirrors concentrate the sun's rays toward areas around the receiver during testing.

Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project Rejected by California Public Utilities Commission

May 21, 2015 - The Southern California Edison (SCE) large Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project that could have cost as much as $1 billion to construct was denied by the CPUC in a unanimous decision, saying "The Commission’s dismissal is without prejudice, which means that SCE may refile the application if future studies of the transmission system show the project to be needed."

Activists in the Victor Valley, Barstow area and Morongo Valley area, and organizations such as Alliance for Desert Progress, Lucerne Valley Economic Development Agency, and MC3 celebrated this final decision. It would mean SCE would have to start all over again with a brand new application if it sought to build this line.

We recall how the Mojave Desert Blog caught early on how this transmission project's reason for being was coming into question in March of this year: "The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) - the organization responsible for managing the state's transmission grid - reported that SCE's proposed Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project is no longer necessary to bring all of the Mojave Solar project's energy to the grid. SCE had argued that it could not deliver energy from Abengoa's Mojave Solar on existing transmission lines because those lines were already in use by other power plants. A new 75 mile transmission line would be needed to connect the project to the grid, according to SCE, a portion of which would be built outside of existing transmission corridors.

"However, the CAISO's submission to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) undercuts SCE's case for building the new transmission line. SCE needs CPUC's approval in order to pass along costs to build the new line to ratepayers. CAISO argues that the retirement of other power plants in the region have freed up enough capacity on transmission lines to fully deliver the energy generated by the Mojave Solar project." -- Quote from Mojave Desert Blog.

See the Victor Valley Daily Press.

BLM Seeking Comments on Luning Solar Energy Project

May 21, 2015 - Carson City, Nev. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Carson City District, Stillwater Field Office, has completed the Environmental Assessment (EA) to analyze potential impacts for the Luning Solar Energy Project proposed by Invenergy Solar Development LLC. The proposed location is approximately three miles north of Luning, Nevada, along State Highway 361 in Mineral County, Nevada. The public is invited to comment on the EA through June 8, 2015. Invenergy Solar Development LLC proposes to construct, operate and decommission a utility scale, 50 megawatt name-plate capacity, solar photovoltaic generating facility, on approximately 560 acres of public lands administered by the BLM.

Links to the EA and related documents are located on the BLM website at: http://on.doi.gov/1Imt1Oi.

Please send written comments to Angelica Rose, Stillwater Field Office, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, NV 89701 or via fax at (775) 885-6147. Comments should include “Luning Solar Project” in the subject line. A hardcopy of the document will be provided upon request. If you have any questions, please contact Angelica Rose or Matt Simons at 775-885-6000.

The area is one Basin & Range Watch visits every year, north of the Excelsior Range, south of the Shoshone Range and near Mina. A remote basin with little industrialization, not a good place for a solar project where photovoltaic panels could easily go on rooftops in urban load centers instead.

See the BLM web page.

California Energy Commission Schedules Hearing Over Continued Suspension of Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System

May 11, 2015 - The California Energy Commission (CEC) issued a notice that it will hold a hearing on the Applicant BrightSource Energy's motion to continue supsension of their Hidden Hills solar power tower proposal in eastern Inyo County CA, and CEC staff's motion to terminate the proceeding. The hearing will be held in Sacramento CA on June 3 at 10 AM. The CEC Committee will conduct the hearing to allow the parties to submit evidence and argument.

See the Notice >>here.

Wind Energy Going Too Far: Rising Tree Wind Energy Project Builders Reportedly Bulldoze House of Unwilling Seller

May 12, 2015 - Kern County CA - Just west of the small town of Mojave in an area Basin & Range Watch volunteers know well, a place where the creosote and Joshua tree of the Mojave Desert edge meet the grassy foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains, the Rising Tree wind project has been taking up private land in order to construct a 1,600 acre wind turbine generator facility thaat would be rated at up to 150 MW. But one family did not want to sell and reportedly had their property bulldozed when they were not present by EDP Renewables North American. A lawsuit was filed last week in California Superior Court (see Windaction.org for more). Volume 1 of the Environmental Impact Report can be found >>here.

We have investigated nearby wind projects that are swallowing up the desert edge here, and the area is home to possible Mojave ground squirrels, once abundant desert tortoises, and even California legless lizards (Anniella pulchra) in the sandy washes that enter the flat desert from the hills. This is not "green" energy when rural residents are forced out of their homes and communities taken over by industry.

The company has asked for a rezoning of the area for wind energy, as well as a county general plan amendment to vacate public roads and utility corridors. Most disturbing is request for a zone variance to reduce wind turbine setbacks to private parcels to as little as one and a half times the wind turbine tower height (page 1-9 in the EIR).

News Archive: News page 2.....News page 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

^April 2015 - Searchlight Hills sunrise, southern Nevada. This view is in danger from a proposed industrial wind project.

General:

 

 

 

The Better Alternative: Rooftop Solar and Energy Efficiency (California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan) >>here - Sign the Petition

 

 

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) >>here

 

Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for CA, NV, AZ, NM, CO, UT >>here - Solar Done Right Response >>here

 

 

Inyo County Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment>>here

Las Vegas Resource Managament Plan >>here

Solar Projects (Active):

 

 

 

Blythe Solar Power Project

A huge 1,000 MW photovoltaic panel project in McCoy Wash, Riverside County with a 5,950 acre footprint. Cultural issues, Fringe-toed lizards, and Desert tortoise are concerns. >>here (under construction)

Crescent Dunes Solar Project

Solar Reserve Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. A 100 MW power tower project with molten salt storage, near Tonopah, Nevada >>here (under construction)

Desert Quartzite Solar Farm

A 2,500-acre photovoltaic project by First Solar near Blythe, in Riverside County, California >>here

Desert Sunlight Solar Farm

A large-scale First Solar photovoltaic project in Colorado Desert area of Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, California >>here (in operation)

I-10 Corridor Projects in Chuckwalla Valley >>here

Genesis Solar Energy Project

NextEra Energy proposes to build a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant near Ford Dry Lake in Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, CA. Water is a concern. >>here (under construction)

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

BrightSource's solar thermal power tower proposal in Ivanpah Valley, San Bernardino County CA >>here Updates >>here (online)

McCoy Solar Power Project

750 MW photovoltaic project in McCoy Wash, Riverside County near Blythe CA, by NextEra Energy. >>here (under construction)

Owens Valley Solar Projects

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and private companies are planning on developing large-scale solar facilities in Owens Valley in eastern CA at various locations. See >>here, and LADWP Solar Ranch; Northland Solar Project.

Palen Solar Electric Generating System

500 MW solar power plant in Chuckwalla Valley ten miles east of Desert Center CA, on good Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat. Abengoa Solar. >>here

Silver State South Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley, Clark County NV >>here (under construction)

Soda Mountain Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in San Bernardino County CA>>here

Last Spring at Soda Mountain? >>here

Stateline Solar Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley CA >>here (under construction)

See also Ivanpah Updates page >>here; May 2011 >>here

Sunshine Valley Solar Project

A 110 MW photovoltaic project by First Solar on private land in Amargosa Valley NV that is close to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refgue. Federally Endangered Yuma clapper rails may be threatened by the "lake effect" of the solar panels >>here

Solar Demonstration Area in Nevada Test Site by Department of Energy >>here

Wind Projects (Active):

 

 

 

Ocotillo Express Wind Facility

Pattern Energy's project on the boundary of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Imperial County CA >>here (online)

Spring 2011 Field Trip >>here

Mohave County Wind Farm

On the White Hills and fan next to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in northwestern AZ, near Mt. Tipton Wilderness and by places where California condors have been sighted from Grand Canyon reintroductions >>here

Searchlight Wind Energy Project

Duke Energy's proposal to place giant wind turbines over the Searchlight Hills, Clark County NV >>here.

Silurian Valley Wind and Solar Project

Iberdrola plans on various wind and solar projects in this remote Mojave Desert valley southeast of Death Valley National Park, San Bernardino County, CA >>here. (Solar project rejected by Bureau of Land Management)

Spring Valley Wind Energy Project

Pattern Energy wants to build up to 85 giant 400-foot tall wind turbines in Spring Valley east of Ely NV, 12 miles from the boundary of Great Basin National Park. The site is home to Pygmy rabbits, Sage grouse, and Pronghorn antelope >>here (online)

Transmission Projects:

 

Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project

A large Southern California Edison transmission project from Barstow CA south along State Route 247 which would open up huge swaths of desert and threaten local communities with energy sprawl >>here

Eldorado-Ivanpah Transmission Project

Southern California Edison proposal to upgrade and add lines in southern NV and eastern CA in Ivanpah Valley, to deliver future renewable energy to coastal cities >>here (completed)

Sunrise Powerlink

Southern California proposed mega-powerline to supposedly link wind and solar in the eastern deserts and Baja, Mexico to coastal cities in San Diego County CA, but also tied to fossil fuel >>here (completed)

SCE Proposes two New Renewable Energy Transmission Projects in the Mojave Desert >>here

Inactive or Withdrawn Solar Projects:

 

Amargosa Farm Road Project

Proposal with storage in Amargosa Valley, Nye County NV >>here (not active)

Big Dune Solar Prohject

7,500-acre project in Amargosa Valley NV by Pacific Solar, on rare and endemic beetle habitat >>here (inactive)

Calico Solar Project

This project is larger than the city of Berkeley. K Road project by the proposed Cady Mountains Wilderness, San Bernardino County CA >>here. Updates >>here (withdrawn)

Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System

BrightSource Energy's second solar thermal power tower proposal in Mesquite Valley, Inyo County CA >>here (inactive but could return)

Imperial Valley Solar Project

Former Tessera Stirling dish project on 6,500 acres sited on archaeologically sensitive Colorado Desert with Flat-tailed horned lizards, west of El Centro, Imperial County CA >>here (withdrawn)

Lathrop Wells Solar Facility

An older Abengoa application. In Amargosa Valle NV, a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant that may be upgraded to 500 MW, with 70 MW photovoltaic >>here (withdrawn)

Lucerne Valley Solar Project

Chevron Energy Solutions is proposing to build a 516-acre photovoltaic project on Mojave Desert with Joshua trees and tortoises in Lucerne Valley CA. Some call the area disturbed, but we disagree >>here (inactive)

Rice Solar Energy Project

A 500-foot tall power tower in a remote CA desert by Solar Reserve >>here (inactive)

Ridgecrest Solar Power Project

Photovoltaic panel proposal for Kern County CA, in the West Mojave Desert >>here. Updates page >>here (terminated)

Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating System

BrightSource Energy's third solar thermal power tower proposal along the Colorado River near Blythe, San Bernardino County CA>>here (inactive)

Inactive or Withdrawn Wind Projects:

Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project

RES proposal to place wind turbines on a roadless pristine mountain in San Bernardino County CA, home to the rare Ford's Indra swallowtail >>here

Wilson Creek/Table Mountain Wind Project

This project has been canceled. A proposed 990 MW wind farm on 30,000 acres of beautiful Great Basin mountain range with elk and sage grouse, a popular recreation area in Lincoln County NV near Pioche >>here (withdrawn)

 

Wind Project Impacts - Photos of Construction in the Mojave Desert and Tehachapi Grassland >>here

Wind Project Proposed for Eastern Edge of Joshua Tree National Park >>here

Inactive Transmission Projects:

 

Green Path North Transmission Project

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power high-voltage line would cut through Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in San Bernardino County CA >>here (not active)

Storage Projects:

 

Eagle Mountain Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Project

An area that should be part of Joshua Tree National Park, in Riverside County CA. Related to the renewable energy projects along the I-10 corridor >>here

Better Renewable Energy Alternatives:

 

CALL to ACTION for ENERGY DEMOCRACY

Sign the Petition by Solar Done Right (scroll down to petition on left front page)

 

This initiative will bring citizens together to demand a more cost-effective, faster, less damaging, and more democratic path to renewable energy. Our goal is to move renewable energy development away from our ecologically rich and agriculturally important lands and onto rooftops and already-developed areas. Solar Done Right will take this petition to top energy policymakers in our government: the White House, Department of Interior, Department of Energy.

Rooftop Solar and Energy Efficiency (California Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan) >>here - Sign the Petition

 

Science:

 

 

 

Desert Tortoise Recovery: Science and Politics Clash >>here

New Desert Tortoise Species Described, Mojave Population Unique, Implications for Big Solar and Conservation >>here

Revised Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan Fails to Address Renewable Energy Sprawl >>here

Golden Eagle Research in the Desert: Renewable Energy Impacts >>here

BRW Recommends Agencies Follow the Final Report of the Independant Science Advisors to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here

Desert Pavement: A Natural Soil Type >>here

Sand Lizards of the Desert: Fringe-toed Lizards >>here

Flat-tailed Horned Lizard in Trouble in Imperial Valley, California >>here

Evolutionary Hotsports in the Mojave Desert >>here

Carbon Sequestration in the Desert: Dr. Michael Allen Paper on Gaps in Desert Research >>here

Letter From an Ecologist: Solar Development Threatens the Desert >>here

Renewable Energy Issues >>here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calendar of Comment Deadlines

Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System California Energy Commission Hearing - June 3, 2015 >>pdf

Luning Solar Energy Project in Mineral County NVEnvironmental Assessment deadline June 8, 2015 >>BLM

Of Interest:

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here

Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project in the California Desert >>here

Robert Lundahl Film: "Who Are My People?" >>here

 

 

 

 

More Renewable Energy NEWS >>here

 

 

 

Hiking the Desert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MINING NEWS >>here

Reward Mine Gets Permit >>here

 

 

 

"In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe."

--Edward Abbey, 1967, Desert Solitaire

 

"Polite conversationalists leave no mark, save the scar upon the earth that could have been prevented had they stood their ground."

--David Brower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE CARTOONS >>here.

All text and photographs Copyright 2014 Basin and Range Watch unless otherwise stated. Basin and Range Watch is an all-volunteer group which does not accept donations from any corporation, individual, or entity.
Web Design by Laura Cunningham, Basin and Range Watch.