Impending battle over massive Santa Fe solar development

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, construction of the proposed Rancho Viejo Solar facility is under consideration on 800 acres of private land about a mile off N.M. 14. Not surprisingly, pushback is already coming from residents who live near the proposed industrial development.

Before construction can begin on the Rancho Viejo Solar facility, the project must gain approval from county officials.

And, as much as the denizens of Santa Fe usually support wind and solar, I expect this to be a  knock-down battle. While often touted as “green,” the reality is that deploying wind and solar takes a great deal of land (much more than a nuclear facility for example).

As this article from the UK Guardian notes, “What was an oasis has become a little island in a dead solar sea.”

Kevin Emmerich worked for the National Park Service for over 20 years before setting up Basin & Range Watch in 2008, a non-profit that campaigns to conserve desert life. He says solar plants create myriad environmental problems, including habitat destruction and “lethal death traps” for birds, which dive at the panels, mistaking them for water.

He says one project bulldozed 600 acres of designated critical habitat for the endangered desert tortoise, while populations of Mojave fringe-toed lizards and bighorn sheep have also been afflicted. “We’re trying to solve one environmental problem by creating so many others.”

While RGF often finds itself at odds with the NIMBY crowd, we support opposition to heavily-subsidized, not really “green” energy.