Learning from BrightSource Solar’s experience with the desert tortoise, stakeholders are vetting a plan to squeeze as much renewable energy out of the California Desert as possible without jeopardizing the existing fauna and flora. With help from an in-house team of advisors who have demanded greater scientific rigor, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan works to balance state mandates to develop more renewable energy projects and conservation of no fewer than 73 species that could be affected by such growth.
Keen to fast track clean energy projects in the state, including wind, solar and even large scale geothermal plants, California wants to ensure that developers won’t face the same problems that delayed construction of BrightSource solar plants because of environmental activists who opposed the displacement of the desert tortoise.
The public is invited to express their concerns at a day-long presentation of the plan, which has undergone several revisions since it was first introduced to scientists in August, on January 9th. Those concerns will be added to the final document, which will be used to produce an Environmental Impact Statement by the summer.
The state is calling for renewable energy development that could require anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 acres, up to half the size of Rhode Island, writes UTSanDiego. National environmental groups and the Environmental Protection Agency approve of the effort, and developers, investors, recreational groups and American Indians are carefully watching the vetting process as it unfolds.