Basin & Range Watch
Defending the Desert
Protecting the Basin and Range Province
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.
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).
^April 2015 - Searchlight Hills sunrise, southern Nevada. This view is in danger from a proposed industrial wind project.
Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) >>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
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
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)
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)
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
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
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)
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.
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
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
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."
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.|
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