NewEnergyNews: HOLIDAY READING: Can First Solar Play Nice With the Locals?

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Paying Fairer Shares In The Climate Fight
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy Can Improve Global Health Care
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY, April 14:

  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Differences Between Energy Markets
  • TTTA Wednesday- Biden Admin To Ensure Jobs Plan Protects Equity – DOE Head
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • SoCalEdison’s Newest Plan To Mitigate Wildfires
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: New Energy Means New Jobs
  • Weekend Video: Better Communication About The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: VW Affirms Driving Is Ready To Go Electric
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Crisis Is The World’s Biggest Worry – Survey
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Record New Energy Global Growth In 2020
  • --------------------------

    --------------------------

    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

    --------------------------

    --------------------------

    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

    -------------------

    -------------------

      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

    -------------------

    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, April 17-18:
  • Time To Bring New Energy Home
  • The Return Of Big Solar
  • New Ways To Get At Geothermal

    Tuesday, December 27, 2011

    HOLIDAY READING: Can First Solar Play Nice With the Locals?

    During this holiday season, NewEnergyNews will feature selections from its original reporting for Greentech Media. Enjoy.

    Can First Solar Play Nice With the Locals? If this is First Solar being a good neighbor, renewables are in trouble.
    Herman K. Trabish, October 28, 2011 (Greentech Media)

    click to enlarge

    A renewable energy boom in California’s Antelope Valley has developers scrambling to build utility-scale solar and wind projects and hotly pursuing power purchase agreements (PPAs), with utilities seeking to meet Governor Jerry Brown’s goal of getting a third of the state’s power from renewables by 2020.

    Promising support from his office, the governor recently told a conference of renewables developers there are “some kinds of opposition you have to crush,” adding, “You have to push ... [or] we’re not going to get to the goal.”

    First Solar is building Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One (AVSR1), a 230-megawatt photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant it bought from eSolar and sold to Exelon. NRG Solar, Element Power, NextEra Energy, Silverado Power and Renewable Resources Group are planning other projects in the area.

    More are lined up behind them. According to the California Energy Commission, 61 solar projects representing 3,340 megawatts and 20 wind projects representing some 2,500 megawatts are in the permitting stage.

    But some Antelope Valley residents believe they are being invaded and that their way of life is about to disappear forever. Some are seizing the profit-taking opportunity. Some are resisting. Most are still trying to grasp the implications of tens of thousands of acres of mountainsides and valley floor being turned into a renewable energy mecca.

    The Antelope Valley will, within a few years, look like nothing anybody on this earth has ever seen.

    Before First Solar broke ground on AVSR1, the company engaged the local communities. Because of serious concerns about elements of the company’s announced plans, there was vocal resistance and the threat of delaying tactics on the part of those who live nearest the project.

    “First Solar is committed to the communities it works in,” Jim Woodruff, First Solar’s Vice President for State and Local Affairs, responded to one such group. “We want to get on the right foot going forward.” When opposition eased, he added that the company was “happy to be making progress with our neighbors.”

    Less than two months later, residents say First Solar has forgotten neighborliness in its pursuit of solar megawatts. The list of its alleged violations of commitments made to the community is long and growing longer.

    First, it hired outsiders -- instead of locals, as promised -- to do biological reconnaissance at the site. These workers caused a fire that threatened nearby residents.

    Subsequently, heavy-duty construction vehicles have been using roads First Solar promised it would not use, increasing traffic, obstacles, wear and tear, and accidents.

    click to enlarge

    They promised to clear and grade the desert floor carefully, yet created dust storms.

    click to enlarge

    The company promised to use precious desert water frugally, yet by one calculation is on track to use its entire allotment in three months.

    click to enlarge

    Locals familiar with construction site safety laws are documenting a list of violations. First Solar promised not to build prison-like fencing, but photos show it is doing so.

    click to enlarge

    The firm promised to be available for dialogue but has reportedly responded to locals’ questions with “We’ll get back to you” -- and often does not follow up on these promises.
    When there has been a response, locals say, builder First Solar has replied it cannot answer for the owners and owner Exelon has replied it cannot answer for the builder.

    Despite First Solar’s promise of transparency, emails show they have urged that media be excluded from talks with local leaders. First Solar promised it would develop its workforce locally but community leaders say it is inflating its local hires by relocating former employees to the community and then hiring them. In meetings with the community, First Solar continues to promise to be a good neighbor, but complaints continue to accrue.

    The politics of the situation are simple: The governor and other elected officials will win far more political popularity by being well along toward 33 percent than by demanding that renewables developers behave honorably.

    The economics are just as simple: Developers will earn a lot by getting their projects built and almost nothing from a sticking to a good-neighbor policy.

    But the decisive question is also simple: What serves the greater good?

    Without Antelope Valley’s resources, California may be hard pressed to achieve its 33 percent goal. So if developers fail to push hard, they do a disservice not only to their stockholders but also to the people of the state, the nation and a planet challenged by climate change.

    But if developers ride roughshod over local communities, they may be doing a long-term disservice to renewable energy. The public presently supports renewables and the state’s goals. But doing the right thing the wrong way will change that.

    Where small pockets of locals are stepped on by overzealous, overly dedicated or overly greedy developers, they will eventually refuse to go away quietly.

    It was a challenge for renewables to carve out a niche in an expanding marketplace. In these difficult times, it is even more difficult. But making new enemies is unwise. Now more than ever, it is vital for renewables developers to do the right thing the right way.

    0 Comments:

    Post a Comment

    << Home