San Bernardino, California, July 18, 2010 — The Lucerne Valley Solar Project cleared its final environmental review this week and, according to the project’s developers, will generate enough clean, reliable and renewable electricity to power almost 20,000 California homes. The project has the support of conservation groups working in California and nationally because it demonstrates that large-scale solar energy projects can be planned in a way that protects plants, wildlife and other desert resources.
“The Lucerne Valley Solar Project is a great example of a project that’s smart from the start,” said Johanna Wald, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We need clean energy, but we also need to protect our diverse wildlife, unique wildlands, and dwindling water supplies. The Lucerne Valley Project achieves the balance between meeting our clean energy needs and protecting our sensitive public lands ecosystem.”
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Lucerne Valley Project last week. Located east of Victorville in the southern California desert, the 516-acre solar energy power plant is expected to break ground later this year and begin powering California homes in 2011.
“It makes sense to start with careful planning up front, so that we can have both clean energy and a healthy environment for generations to come,” said Alice Bond, California public lands policy analyst. “While the Department of the Interior works to finalize its regulations on how and where solar projects are built on public lands, companies that focus on the right places and the right technology to reduce conflicts from the get-go will continue to find success.”
The Wilderness Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club are working closely with wind and solar developers, community groups, and local, state and federal agencies in California and across the West to promote “smart from the start” renewable energy planning that will help America tap into its vast renewable energy potential, while protecting important wildlife habitat, water resources and desert vistas. Lucerne Valley fits the bill because it has high solar potential, is close to existing roads, infrastructure and transmission lines, and avoids sensitive areas that have been identified as of critical for wildlife and other vital natural resources.
“We can’t afford to make the same mistakes with wind and solar energy that were made — and are still being made — with coal mining and oil and gas drilling,” said Kim Delfino, California Program Director at Defenders of Wildlife. “We need to be smart from the start so that Lucerne Valley and projects like it will help America break its dependence on dirty energy sources.”
“It’s important to steer renewable energy projects away from high value, intact desert habitat, and the Lucerne solar project developers are to be commended for siting it in an already fragmented area,” said Joan Taylor, Chair of Sierra Club’s California/Nevada Desert Energy Committee.
Read information about Lucerne Valley from The Wilderness Society and Natural Resources Defense Council.
Read information about Lucerne Valley from Defenders of Wildlife.