Solar Companies Working With Conservation Groups Results in Better Projects, Lessons for the Future

Oct 5, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Two California solar projects are expected to get approval from the Department of the Interior today, with final Records of Decision being announced in an afternoon press event. The proposed Lucerne Valley and Imperial Valley Solar Projects will bring much-needed renewable energy development online in a timely manner, making progress toward meeting the California renewable portfolio standard and helping to address commitments to emit fewer greenhouse gasses.

Highlighting the hard work that environmental groups and project developers are doing to minimize impacts and find solutions for clean energy, last week, The Wilderness Society and our partners reached agreement with Tessera Solar, developer of the Imperial Valley Solar Project on a suite of measures that are intended to ensure careful and considered phasing of this project. This project, located east of San Diego County, will help power that region.

The Chevron Lucerne project ,located east of Victorville in the southern California desert, is expected to begin powering homes in 2011 and demonstrates that large-scale solar energy projects can be planned in a way that protects water, wildlife and other desert resources.

The following statement can be attributed to Alice Bond, The Wilderness Society’s lead on renewable energy projects and policy in California:

“We support BLM’s decision today to approve these two important solar energy projects. Our state and nation urgently need clean, renewable energy. The permits approved today mean we can break ground on projects that help move us towards a clean energy economy. Few of the pilot projects on BLM’s ‘fast track’ are in places The Wilderness Society would have picked, but we have worked hard with the companies, BLM and other agencies and our partners to minimize significant impacts to the land and wildlife while permitting clean energy production that will pay dividends for decades to come.”

“We have been concerned from the start that a significant number of projects could be permitted without the benefit of comprehensive guidance, which could lead to unnecessary delays in the build-out of projects as well as poorly sited projects that could create an erosion of public support for renewable energy development on public lands. Local citizens and conservationists shouldn’t be left holding the bag when poorly sited or planned projects face challenges. In particular, The Wilderness Society will continue to push for national siting standards to ensure that in the future projects are done right from the beginning or what we like to refer to as smart from the start.”