Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation in Congress on Monday to protect a million acres of the Mojave Desert in California by scuttling some 13 big solar plants and wind farms planned for the region.
But before the bill to create two new Mojave national monuments has even had its first hearing, the California Democrat has largely achieved her aim. Regardless of the legislation’s fate, her opposition means that few if any power plants are likely to be built in the monument area, a complication in California’s effort to achieve its aggressive goals for renewable energy.
A few of the rationales about environment are perfectly reasonable. But, understand from the git-go, this is about not “spoiling” the view for those who pass by – then return home to the Bay Area or L.A..
Developers of the projects have already postponed several proposals or abandoned them entirely. The California agency charged with planning a renewable energy transmission grid has rerouted proposed power lines to avoid the monument.
Look at the photo above. There already are power lines crossing the area. Why not new ones?
High population density section of New Mexico – on a really cloudy day
Her intervention in the Mojave means it will be more difficult for California utilities to achieve a goal, set by the state, of obtaining a third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020; projects in the monument area could have supplied a substantial portion of that power…
“When we attended the onsite desert meeting – the one where she drove around in the desert – with Senator Feinstein, it was clear she was very serious about this,” said Gary Palo, vice president for development with Cogentrix Energy, a solar developer owned by Goldman Sachs. “It would make no sense for us politically or practically to go forward with those projects.”
Another project, a huge 12,000-acre solar farm by Tessera Solar, was canceled last week, and the company cited Mrs. Feinstein’s opposition…
“In the near term, it would have a very substantial impact,” said Steven L. Kline, emphasizing that in principle, P.G.& E. supports Mrs. Feinstein’s efforts to preserve sensitive desert lands. “Over time those projects will be built somewhere else and we’ll have benefits of the power.”
And that’s why I don’t get too pissed off about the hoity-toity pretend environmentalists, the pols who discover issues of ecology whenever it suits their campaigning.
California will lose the cost savings of accessibility just as they have with coal-fired power plants. States like New Mexico and Arizona – who would benefit from California exporting some of their dollars along with their needs – have as much or more room, sunlight, wind and the collective sense to provide sites.