By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– A section of pristine desert near the entrance of Death Valley will not become home to a massive 2.5-square-mile solar project – a move welcomed by First District Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood.
“We need to be very careful in locating renewable energy projects,” Lovingood said. “We have listened to our constituents that these projects should first be located on already-disturbed land rather than on beautiful, untouched desert near the gateway to Death Valley.”
Lovingood’s remarks came on the heels of the Bureau of Land Management’s rejection of an application for a solar energy right-of-way in the Silurian Valley, 10 miles north of Baker. BLM California Director Jim Kenna turned down the proposal by a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, LLC, for a 200 megawatt photovoltaic solar project on 1,616 acres along Highway 127. A proposed wind project remains in the planning phase.
In making its determination on the Silurian Valley project, the BLM analyzed environmental data in addition to gathering information from the public and local, state, federal and tribal governments. The initial review and analysis indicated that the impacts to the Silurian Valley, a largely undisturbed valley that supports wildlife, an important piece of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, and recreational and scenic values, had too great of an impact on the resources. The BLM concluded that these impacts likely could not be mitigated and that the project would not be in the public interest.
The BLM has approved 18 solar, wind and geothermal projects on public lands in California since 2010. The Silurian Valley project is the first to be denied through the variance process.