Friday, June 04, 2021
Latest opponents of solar energy farm in Mojave Desert? Environmentalists
MOAPA VALLEY, Nev.—This windswept desert community is full of clean energy supporters including Suzanne Rebich, an airline pilot who recently topped her house with 36 solar panels. About 200 homes generate their own solar energy and a quarter of the local electricity supply comes from hydroelectric power.
All the same, many here are dead set against a planned solar plant atop the Mormon Mesa, which overlooks this valley 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Slated to be the biggest solar plant in the U.S., the Battle Born Solar Project by California-based Arevia Power would carpet 14 square miles—the equivalent of 7,000 football fields—with more than a million solar panels 10 to 20 feet tall. At 850-megawatts, it would generate nearly one-tenth of Nevada’s current electric capacity.
“It will destroy this land forever,” Ms. Rebich, 33, said after riding her bicycle on the 600-foot high mesa.
Across the U.S., more than 800 utility-scale solar projects are under contract to generate nearly 70,000 megawatts of new capacity, enough to power more than 11 million homes, equivalent to Texas and then some. More than half this capacity is being planned for the American Southwest, with its abundance of sunshine and open land.
These large projects are increasingly drawing opposition from environmental activists and local residents who say they are ardent supporters of clean energy. Their objections range from a desire to keep the land unspoiled to protection for endangered species to concerns that their views would no longer be as beautiful.
Unlike past fights between polluting industries and environmentalists, this one pits people who say they want more renewable power against companies that want to generate it. It threatens to significantly slow efforts by the Biden administration and businesses to fight climate change by reducing America’s carbon emissions.
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