Basin & Range Watch
Defending the Desert
A 501(c)(3) Non-profit organization
Basin and Range Watch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit working to conserve the deserts of Nevada and California and to educate the public about the diversity of life, culture, and history of the ecosystems and wild lands of the desert. Federal and many state agencies are seeking to open up millions of acres of unspoiled habitat and public land in our region to energy development. Our goal is to identify the problems of energy sprawl and find solutions that will preserve our natural ecosystems, open spaces, and quality of life for local communities. We support energy efficiency, better rooftop solar policy, and distributed generation/storage alternatives, as well as local, state and national planning for wise energy and land use following the principles of conservation biology.
Come visit and experience the great beauty of spring wildflowers, vast open vistas, bird watching trails, and wildlife viewing.
San Bernardino County Supervisors Vote Against Soda Mountain Solar Project
August 24, 2016 - San Bernardino CA - At a meeting yesterday well-attended by desert activists, County Supervisors gathered to vote 3-2 against giving premits to the unpopular Soda Mountain Solar Project. Here is a wrap-up of articles:
DRECP: We Do Not Need to Sacrifice the Desert
August 22, 2016 - Some are celebrating the soon to be approved Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan because it will designate conservation lands in the California Desert. We are not. As desert conservationists we think the trade-off is too great: over 600 square miles of undeveloped public lands in the California Desert would be streamlined for large-scale renewable energy development in Development Focus Areas. Plus new conservation lands would have to allow some new transmission within their borders. Over half a million people asked for a Distributed Energy Resource alternative to energy sprawl under the DRECP, but were told no. The reasons for that negative answer are very much outdated and outmoded (see our updated Rooftop Solar Alternative).
See these before and after photos of existing solar projects and what we can expect in Development Focus Areas in the future>>here.
Basin & Range Watch is a Science-Based Organization in Support of Desert Conservation and Distributed Energy Resources
August 9, 2016 - Basin & Range Watch contributed content to this letter and were signatories opposing the Soda Mountain Solar Project signed by scientists concerned with conservation of the California Desert - Scientists Letter to San Bernardino County Opposing Soda Mountain Solar and Asking to Support Distributed Energy Resources.
Distributed Energy Resources Are Better Than a Development Plan in the California Desert
August 5, 2016 - Read our rooftop solar alternative and reasons why we do not support the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here.
Bechtel Sells Soda Mountain Solar Project
August 17, 2016 - San Bernardino County CA - Bechtel, the multinational company that had previously purchased the Soda Mountain Solar Project from another entity, this month sold the project to developer Regenerate Power (http://www.regeneratepowerllc.com).
Birds Continue to be Injured at Crescent Dunes Solar Power Tower
July 28, 2016 - Tonopah NV - Basin & Range Watch had the opportunity on July 25 to examine a prairie falcon (Falco mexicanus) that had been found July 20 from Crescent Dunes solar project and found injured in the solar field.The bird injury was confirmed by US Fish and Wildlife Service. We examined it and took photographs. The feathers were melted and degraded and sores were still growing, matching descriptions by California Energy Commission of solar flux damage. The falcon was alive and active but both wings and tail appeared to be burned off--but not burned--rather melted or degraded to an extreme so that it was impossible for the bird to fly. The flight feathers were curled in places as if exposed to extreme heat energy, apparently from the solar flux. Open sores were present on the wrist of each wing, one larger than the other, and skin was visible as feathers had been degraded away. It is possible the follicles of the feathers were damaged and the feathers may or may not be able to grow back. See more photos >>here.
San Bernardino County Supervisors to Decide in Meeting on Soda Mountain Solar Project
July 21, 2016 - The next meeting of the County Supervisors will be on August 23, where they will consider the Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act review for the Soda Mountain Solar Energy Project. Please consider attending and making your voice heard.
See the Call to Action on the Morongo Basin Conservation Association and write a letter to the Supervicors.
Sign the Petition by Alliance for Desert Preservation.
See our letter to the County >>here.
Desert Tortoises and Mojave Yuccas Threatened by Utility-scale Solar: Yellow Pine Solar Project
July 8, 2016 -- South of Pahrump, NV -- Laura Cunningham and Kevin Emmerich -- On June 26 NextEra filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada for a new 250 megawatt photovoltaic project proposed for Mojave Desert ecosystems with old growth yucca stands in Pahrump Valley along the Tecopa Road and close to the historic Old Spanish Trail.
But conflicts exist with land management here. This area was created to move tortoises out of harms way and to release tortoises that have been picked up or once have been pets. The Las Vegas, Nevada Desert Tortoise Conservation Center was closed in 2014 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service due to budget cuts. So these tortoises are tested for disease and released in the Pahrump Valley on two "translocation areas", Trout Canyon and Stump Springs designated last year. Now (July, 2016) the Bureau of Land Management will consider approving the Yellow Pine Solar Project on about 3,000 acres of this translocation site.
The proposed project site is less than a quarter mile from one of the tallest Mojave yuccas (Yucca schidigera) yet found. The project site itself contains numerous Mojave yuccas and Joshua trees, as well as healthy undisturbed old growth Mojave Desert scrub.
Policy Obstacles to Rooftop Solar Build-out
June 26, 2016 - Laura Cunningham
Basin & Range Watch for several years has tried to promote renewable energy alternatives to utility-scale solar and wind projects that are being constructed on desert ecosystems, better alternatives such as rooftop solar and distributed smaller projects like solar parking lot canopies and commercial building solar arrays. The technology is there, microgrids have modernized, exciting new developments in battery storage are on the market, and homeowners and businesses are lining up. So why are we not seeing urban areas covered to the maximum with rooftop solar? Time and time again we are seeing policy obstacles that inhibit rooftop solar incentives for homeowners, while utilities continue to receive solar tax credits, ratepayer-subsidized capital campaigns to build long transmission lines, and the huge benefit of inexpensive leases on public lands to develop large-scale solar projects. We beleive rooftop solar policy should be more supportive of homeowners who want to invest in solar.
We summarize the state of one such solar policy, net energy metering, that has erupted into controversy in Nevada. We have followed this case closely, as well as writing comment letters to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN), and attended several hearings on the subject (as well as protests). See >>here
New Palen Solar PV Project Reactivated With Little Public Notice
June 21, 2016 - Palm Springs CA - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the re-awakened 500-megawatt Palen Solar Photovoltaic Project (formerly a concentrated solar thermal project) for 4,200 acres of undisturbed desert ecosystem west of Desert Center in the Chuckwalla Valley of Riverside County CA. See the BLM notice mailed to a few parties.
Basin & Range Watch has long been an intervenor in the former California Energy Commission proceedings (CEC), although the CEC does not review photovoltaic solar projects, only those that have a thermal energy component. In 2015 the project switched owners and the CEC had made a decision on jurisdictional matters to continue reviewing the case once the applicant changed the technology, but then denied a request to extend deadlines of the project in the matter of amended reviews. This means the CEC opted out of any further review, leaving the BLM as sole permitting agency along with Riverside County.
A scoping meeting will be held June 29, 2016 from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM at the Palm Springs City Hall, Palm Springs CA 92262.
Comments will be collected until July 18, 2016.
This is a very short notice for a single public meeting for so important a project in the California Desert. We were only made aware of it by our extensive network of desert advocates, not by receiving a BLM notice. BLM should place this notice on their website. Public meetings should also be held in Blythe CA.
EDF Renewables is proposing single-axis tracking photovoltaic panels, but does not have a Power Purchase Agreement with a utility yet for the project that we are aware of. See more >>here.
Bats and Wind Projects: Study
June 10, 2016 - All energy sources have impacts, and why we support energy efficiency and distributed generation in the built environment first and foremost.
"A research review published in January of this year found that wind turbines are, by far, the largest cause of mass bat mortality around the world. White-nose syndrome, the deadly fungal disease that has decimated bat populations throughout the northeastern U.S., came in second."
Nellis Test and Training Range Proposed Expansion
^The upper Amargosa River watershed which would be included in the proposed expansion.
June 8, 2016 - Following the approved Ft. Irwin and the 29 Palms Marine Base expansions, the US Air Force has a proposal to expand the boundaries of their range in central-south Nevada.
We talked to the Air Force about the large military expansion proposal for the range in Nevada which would potentially transfer up to 230,000 acres of public land to the military, mostly in the Mojave Desert.
West Mojave Hammered by Energy Development
^Piles of Joshua trees bulldozed for a utility-scale solar project (photo by Tony Molina).
June 8, 2016 - We believe this new solar project is called the Astoria Solar Project being built on about 2,000 acres of private land in the West Mojave Desert near Rosamond, California. Who needs biological diversity when you can bulldoze it all for a "green" solar project? This is the classic example of killing the planet to save it. More >>here.
Rail Storage Project Approved Near Pahrump, Nevada
June 2, 2016 - Pahrump NV - Mt. Charleston area seen from Carpenter Canyon, Spring Range, Nevada
Multiagency Avian-Solar Interactions Workshop
May 26, 2016 - Sacramento CA - We hear a lot of comments that say, why care about birds dying in solar flux at power towers or colliding with photovoltaic panels in large-scale projects out in the desert, thinking they are lakes, why bother? The argument goes, so many more birds die from collisions with buildings or vehicles on highways, or are caught by domestic cats. Yet cumulative impacts should not be ignored -- why add even more sources of bird mortality? And importantly, largescale solar and wind projects are often placed in remote wildland habitats that do not have high mortality rates from structures or urban effects. Associated transmission lines add sources of mortality and disturbance. Species of birds such as golden eagle, which are not killed by domestic cats, are at risk from these largescale renewable energy projects. Many government agencies are concerned with avian mortality at solar projects, and this workshop focused on this.
About 70 people attended the Multiagency Avian-Solar Collaborative Working Group meeting, many from industry and government to discuss the issues. Only a few non-governmental orgnaziations were present, including Basin & Range Watch. Following are summaries of each presentation and our commentary. See our report >>here.
See News from the last 4 years >>here
^June 2016 - Aspen groves and mountain meadows, Monitor Range, Nevada.
Net Energy Metering Controversy in Nevada >>here
Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) >>here
Inyo County Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment>>here
Las Vegas Resource Managament Plan >>here
Eagle Mountain Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Project
An area that should be part of Joshua Tree National Park, in Riverside County CA. Related to the renewable energy projects along the I-10 corridor >>here
ARES Rail Storage Project
Advanced rail energy storage project in Pahrump NV on the alluvial fan of the Spring Range >>here
Solar Projects (Active):
Blythe Solar Power Project
A huge 1,000 MW photovoltaic panel project in McCoy Wash, Riverside County with a 5,950 acre footprint. Cultural issues, Fringe-toed lizards, and Desert tortoise are concerns. >>here (under construction)
Crescent Dunes Solar Project
Solar Reserve Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. A 100 MW power tower project with molten salt storage, near Tonopah, Nevada >>here
Crimson Solar Project
Recurrent seeks to construct a 4,000-acre 450-megawatt photovoltaic project with storage near Blythe, in Riverside County, California>>here
Desert Quartzite Solar Farm
A 2,500-acre photovoltaic project by First Solar near Blythe, in Riverside County, California >>here
Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
A large-scale First Solar photovoltaic project in Colorado Desert area of Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, California >>here (in operation)
I-10 Corridor Projects in Chuckwalla Valley >>here
Genesis Solar Energy Project
NextEra Energy proposes to build a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant near Ford Dry Lake in Chuckwalla Valley, Riverside County, CA. Water is a concern. >>here (under construction)
Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System
Luning Solar Energy Project
100 MW photovoltaic project in Mineral County, NV >>here (approved)
McCoy Solar Power Project
750 MW photovoltaic project in McCoy Wash, Riverside County near Blythe CA, by NextEra Energy. >>here (under construction)
Owens Valley Solar Projects
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and private companies are planning on developing large-scale solar facilities in Owens Valley in eastern CA at various locations. See >>here, and LADWP Solar Ranch; Northland Solar Project
Palen Solar PV Project
500 MW solar power plant in Chuckwalla Valley ten miles east of Desert Center CA, on good Mojave fringe-toed lizard habitat. EDF Renewables >>here
Silver State South Solar Project
Photovoltaic panel proposal in Ivanpah Valley, Clark County NV >>here (under construction)
Soda Mountain Solar Project
Photovoltaic panel proposal in San Bernardino County CA>>here
Last Spring at Soda Mountain? >>here
Stateline Solar Project
Sunshine Valley Solar Project
A 110 MW photovoltaic project by First Solar on private land in Amargosa Valley NV that is close to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refgue. Federally Endangered Yuma clapper rails may be threatened by the "lake effect" of the solar panels >>here
Solar Demonstration Area in Nevada Test Site by Department of Energy >>here
Wind Projects (Active):
Crescent Peak Wind Project
Reactivated wind project in Clark County NV next to proposed Castle Mountains National Monument and Mojave National Preserve >>here
Ocotillo Express Wind Facility
Pattern Energy's project on the boundary of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Imperial County CA >>here (online)
Spring 2011 Field Trip >>here
Mohave County Wind Farm
On the White Hills and fan next to Lake Mead National Recreation Area in northwestern AZ, near Mt. Tipton Wilderness and by places where California condors have been sighted from Grand Canyon reintroductions >>here
Searchlight Wind Energy Project
Duke Energy's proposal to place giant wind turbines over the Searchlight Hills, Clark County NV >>here
Silurian Valley Wind and Solar Project
Iberdrola plans on various wind and solar projects in this remote Mojave Desert valley southeast of Death Valley National Park, San Bernardino County, CA >>here (Solar project rejected by Bureau of Land Management)
Spring Valley Wind Energy Project
Pattern Energy wants to build up to 85 giant 400-foot tall wind turbines in Spring Valley east of Ely NV, 12 miles from the boundary of Great Basin National Park. The site is home to Pygmy rabbits, Sage grouse, and Pronghorn antelope >>here (online)
Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project
A large Southern California Edison transmission project from Barstow CA south along State Route 247 which would open up huge swaths of desert and threaten local communities with energy sprawl >>here
Eldorado-Ivanpah Transmission Project
Southern California Edison proposal to upgrade and add lines in southern NV and eastern CA in Ivanpah Valley, to deliver future renewable energy to coastal cities >>here (completed)
Southern California proposed mega-powerline to supposedly link wind and solar in the eastern deserts and Baja, Mexico to coastal cities in San Diego County CA, but also tied to fossil fuel >>here (completed)
SCE Proposes two New Renewable Energy Transmission Projects in the Mojave Desert >>here
Inactive or Withdrawn Solar Projects:
Amargosa Farm Road Project
Proposal with storage in Amargosa Valley, Nye County NV >>here (not active)
Big Dune Solar Prohject
7,500-acre project in Amargosa Valley NV by Pacific Solar, on rare and endemic beetle habitat >>here (inactive)
Calico Solar Project
Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System
BrightSource Energy's second solar thermal power tower proposal in Mesquite Valley, Inyo County CA >>here (withdrawn)
Imperial Valley Solar Project
Former Tessera Stirling dish project on 6,500 acres sited on archaeologically sensitive Colorado Desert with Flat-tailed horned lizards, west of El Centro, Imperial County CA >>here (withdrawn)
Lathrop Wells Solar Facility
An older Abengoa application. In Amargosa Valle NV, a 250-megawatt parabolic trough solar thermal plant that may be upgraded to 500 MW, with 70 MW photovoltaic >>here (withdrawn)
Lucerne Valley Solar Project
Chevron Energy Solutions is proposing to build a 516-acre photovoltaic project on Mojave Desert with Joshua trees and tortoises in Lucerne Valley CA. Some call the area disturbed, but we disagree >>here (inactive)
Rice Solar Energy Project
A 500-foot tall power tower in a remote CA desert by Solar Reserve >>here (inactive)
Ridgecrest Solar Power Project
Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating System
BrightSource Energy's third solar thermal power tower proposal along the Colorado River near Blythe, San Bernardino County CA>>here (inactive)
Inactive or Withdrawn Wind Projects:
Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project
RES proposal to place wind turbines on a roadless pristine mountain in San Bernardino County CA, home to the rare Ford's Indra swallowtail >>here
Wilson Creek/Table Mountain Wind Project
This project has been canceled. A proposed 990 MW wind farm on 30,000 acres of beautiful Great Basin mountain range with elk and sage grouse, a popular recreation area in Lincoln County NV near Pioche >>here (withdrawn)
Wind Project Impacts - Photos of Construction in the Mojave Desert and Tehachapi Grassland >>here
Wind Project Proposed for Eastern Edge of Joshua Tree National Park >>here
Inactive Transmission Projects:
Green Path North Transmission Project
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power high-voltage line would cut through Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in San Bernardino County CA >>here (not active)
Better Renewable Energy Alternatives:
CALL to ACTION for ENERGY DEMOCRACY
Sign the Petition by Solar Done Right (scroll down to petition on left front page)
This initiative will bring citizens together to demand a more cost-effective, faster, less damaging, and more democratic path to renewable energy. Our goal is to move renewable energy development away from our ecologically rich and agriculturally important lands and onto rooftops and already-developed areas. Solar Done Right will take this petition to top energy policymakers in our government: the White House, Department of Interior, Department of Energy.
Desert Tortoise Recovery: Science and Politics Clash >>here
New Desert Tortoise Species Described, Mojave Population Unique, Implications for Big Solar and Conservation >>here
Revised Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan Fails to Address Renewable Energy Sprawl >>here
Golden Eagle Research in the Desert: Renewable Energy Impacts >>here
BRW Recommends Agencies Follow the Final Report of the Independant Science Advisors to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan >>here
Desert Pavement: A Natural Soil Type >>here
Sand Lizards of the Desert: Fringe-toed Lizards >>here
Flat-tailed Horned Lizard in Trouble in Imperial Valley, California >>here
Evolutionary Hotsports in the Mojave Desert >>here
Carbon Sequestration in the Desert: Dr. Michael Allen Paper on Gaps in Desert Research >>here
Letter From an Ecologist: Solar Development Threatens the Desert >>here
Renewable Energy Issues >>here
Calendar of Comment Deadlines
Palen Solar PV Project comments on scoping -- September 3, 2016, 2016 >>Frank McMenimen BLM
We are now a nonprofit! >>here
Sign the Petition: Save Searchlight Desert and Mountains >>here
"Streamer" Video Obtained by Basin & Range Watch of Crescent Dunes Solar Project Birds Vaporizing >>here
Net-Metering Rooftop Solar Presentation >>pdf
More Renewable Energy NEWS >>here
MINING NEWS >>here
"In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe."
--Edward Abbey, 1967, Desert Solitaire
"Polite conversationalists leave no mark, save the scar upon the earth that could have been prevented had they stood their ground."
MORE CARTOONS >>here.
|All text and photographs Copyright 2014 Basin and Range Watch unless otherwise stated. Basin and Range Watch is an all-volunteer group which does not accept donations from any corporation, individual, or entity.|
|Web Design by Laura Cunningham, Basin and Range Watch.|