If you wanted to give some kind of award to the company that just became the largest participant in the L.A. Department of Water and Power's CLEAN LA Solar program, we know where you could get a pretty good deal.
The Southern California Trophy Company at Broadway and West 25th St. in downtown L.A. has 134 kilowatts of rooftop solar going live this week, making it the largest participant in LADWP's program that buys power generated on Los Angeles rooftops.
The trophy company, in business for 86 years, has been involved with production of awards ranging from the Oscars and Golden Globes to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games' gold medals. Which makes taking first place among the DWP's feed-in tariff partners just one more accomplishment in nearly a century of awards, though admittedly the firm more usually provides those awards rather than receiving them.
The National Park Service has made its opinion known on a proposed solar power tower project just outside the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park, and the agency says the project would have "unavoidable and unmitigatable significant adverse impacts" to the park.
The summation by the Park Service came in the form of the agency's comments on the Draft Supplemental environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on BrightSource Energy and Abengoa Solar's proposed Palen Solar Electric Generating System (PSEGS), which would place 160,000 billboard-sized mirrors surrounding two 750-foot solar power towers about ten miles from the park's eastern boundary.
Foremost among the National Park Service's requests: scrap the power tower design and go back to the drawing board to create a solar power plant with less visual impact than the two power towers, which at 750 feet would tie for sixth place among the tallest structures in California.
The mere presence of the towers, with the requisite safety lightings and navigation beacons, poses concern to the park agency, which holds among its many missions protecting the dark desert night skies over Joshua Tree. In the words of the comment letter:
National Parks include some of the last remaining harbors of natural darkness and provide an excellent opportunity for the public to experience this endangered resource. NPS is dedicated to protecting and sharing this resource for the enjoyment of current and future generations.... [D]ata taken from Pinto Wells in the Pinto Basin of Joshua Tree NP indicates that this area is the darkest measured in the park and is representative of the darkest skies found in the Mojave Desert. Construction and operation of the PSEGS project has a high potential to degrade the natural darkness of the Pinto Basin and the eastern portions of Joshua Tree NP....
During the preparation of the Draft SEIS, according to the document, the NPS provided five viewpoints within and near the park that National Park Service staff felt were of critical importance in gauging the project's effect on Joshua Tree National Park. None of the five are mentioned in the Draft SEIS.
Oakland-based BrightSource Energy announced today that its Board Chairman David Ramm will be taking the helm as the solar firm's new Chief Executive Officer.
This isn't a radical change for BrightSource: Ramm has been acting CEO since June, when former CEO John Woolard left the firm, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. Ramm will continue to act as the firm's Chairman of the Board.
"I am honored by the confidence BrightSource's Board of Directors has expressed in my leadership of the company," Ramm said. "BrightSource has world class talent, both here in our Oakland headquarters and in our offices around the globe. I'm looking forward to taking on this new role with such a dedicated and capable team."
California's newest wind turbines may be killing more than 100,000 birds a year, according to a peer-reviewed study to be published in December. Those mortalities seem to climb the taller wind turbines get. And California wind turbines kill more wildlife per megawatt than identical turbines in other parts of the country.
What's more, though some have pointed to replacements of the old-style lattice structures holding up turbines with monopoles as a way of making wind turbines safer for birds -- by reducing the possibility that birds will try to perch on the turbine structures -- the study indicates that swapping lattice for monopole might not be the quick fix wind advocates had hoped for.
The study, conducted by Scott R. Loss and Peter P. Marra from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Migratory Bird Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Tom Will, appears in the December 2013 issue of the journal Biological Conservation.
The builders of a large solar power tower plant under construction in the Mojave Desert have released their latest monthly report to the state agency overseeing the project, and the bad news for wildlife seems to be mounting.
Not only is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) racking up a higher toll of wildlife mortalities each month, but many of the birds reportedly found dead on the site in October may well have flown there from many miles away, raising the possibility that solar power tower projects in the California desert may well affect wildlife populations across the western half of North America.
According to a monthly compliance report furnished by BrightSource Energy and posted Tuesday on the website of the California Energy Commission (CEC), 52 birds were found dead on the nearly 4,000 acre ISEGS site in October, as were six bats. Of the 52 birds at least 13 were yellow-rumped warblers, a migratory species that had not been previously counted among the casualties at ISEGS.
Documents posted to a state agency's website Monday indicate that that agency may not be taking public comment on large desert solar plants as seriously as the law requires, treating one project in particular as a done deal even before the environmental assessment process is complete.
The document in question: a transcript of proceedings held by the California Energy Commission (CEC) on a proposed 500 megawatt solar power tower project on 3,800 acres of public land in Riverside County. Intervenors in the proceedings have been waiting for this transcript for some time. At a October 28 hearing, CEC representatives said the transcript would be available the first week of November.
The CEC didn't actually make the transcript available until Monday, November 18, a surprising 21 days after the hearing, two and a half weeks later than participants at the hearing in Palm Desert expected. And so the CEC has extended that legal brief filing deadline, adding one more incremental delay to a project whose proponents have repeatedly said cannot be delayed.