Rejecting solar in California

2009-08-18

in Economics, Politics, Rants, The environment

In another example of the renewable energy NIMBY phenomenon, various groups are opposing the 850 megawatt Calico solar farm under consideration in California.

I think the seriousness of climate change makes such opposition wrongheaded. Yes, there will be some negative environmental impacts associated with installing 34,000 solar dishes in the Mojave Desert. That being said, the negative impacts associated with failing to reform our enery system – and thus provoking catastrophic climate change – are far worse.

If we are willing to tolerate mountaintop removal mining and the oil sands, we should certainly be willing to see solar facilities installed in the most promising areas for them.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

oleh August 18, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Thank you for bringing such interesting stories to our attention.

I agree that global environmental issues, and in particular climate change, outweigh the narrrower issues of protecting the three of so endangered species potentially effected in the Calico desert. However, I took some comfort from the developer of the project expecting to meet the concerns of the environmentalists concerned about the endangered species. The article reports that “Sean Gallagher, Tessera Solar’s vice president for market strategy and regulatory affairs, said in an interview on Tuesday that the company has followed regulators’ scientific protocols in preparing its license application.

Mr. Gallagher said he has been in discussions with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups and expects Tessera Solar will be able to address their wildlife concerns.”

I hope that solar projects of this size are allowed to proceed and that the mutual interest of the different groups will be met.

. November 16, 2009 at 11:53 am

One doctor’s quest to sound the alarm on ‘wind turbine syndrome’
by Jonathan Hiskes

By the time the pediatrician Nina Pierpont settled in upstate New York, she had already built a rather diverse and full career. As the Connecticut native tells it, she studied birds in the Amazon jungle on her way to earning a Ph.D. in behavioral ecology, then enrolled in medical school, completing a degree and practicing among Navajo Indians and Yup’ik Eskimos. Then she and her husband moved to Malone, N.Y., a small town just 11 miles from the Quebec border, where she opened a pediatric practice.

Over the last several years she has reinvented herself again. Upon hearing about a proposal for a nearby wind farm, Pierpont began looking into effects of wind turbines related to her expertise—medicine. She tracked down others who lived near wind projects—two families in England, five in Canada, one in the U.K., one in Italy, another in the U.S. All 38 people had previously complained about health effects they blamed on wind farms. Several had since moved away. When Pierpont interviewed them by phone, they reported symptoms that included headaches, nausea, insomnia, visual blurring, vertigo, and panic attacks.

Pierpont came to believe that the cause was infrasound, a type of low-frequency sound inaudible to humans except at very loud levels (think the opposite of a high-pitched dog whistle). Residents weren’t merely hearing the thrum of turbines, she concluded, they were feeling it as an imperceptible vibration in their bodies. This was disrupting the inner-ear vestibular system—the body’s chief tool for balance and spacial orientation.

. November 12, 2010 at 9:52 am

America’s Department of the Interior gave the go-ahead for what will be the world’s largest solar-energy project. Backed by a German company and built on public lands near Blythe, California, the venture will eventually produce enough output from four solar-thermal plants to power between 300,000 and 750,000 homes.

. April 29, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Solar Panels Rise Pole by Pole, Followed by Gasps of ‘Eyesore’

ORADELL, N.J. — Nancy and Eric Olsen could not pinpoint exactly when it happened or how. All they knew was one moment they had a pastoral view of a soccer field and the woods from their 1920s colonial-style house; the next all they could see were three solar panels.

“I hate them,” Mr. Olsen, 40, said of the row of panels attached to electrical poles across the street. “It’s just an eyesore.”

Around the corner lives Tom Trobiano, 61, a liquor salesman, now adapting to the lone solar panel hanging over his driveway. “When it’s up close,” he said, “the panel takes on a life of its own.”

Like a massive Christo project but without the advance publicity, installations have been popping up across New Jersey for about a year now, courtesy of New Jersey’s largest utility, the Public Service Electric and Gas Company. Unlike other solar projects tucked away on roofs or in industrial areas, the utility is mounting 200,000 individual panels in neighborhoods throughout its service area, covering nearly three-quarters of the state.

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