6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Work on Solar Project Halted to Protect Lizard

Support Provided By
flat-tailed-horned-lizard-tenaska-3-11-15-thumb-630x472-89339
Flat-tailed horned lizard | Photo: Johnida Dockens/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Work has halted on a solar power facility in Imperial County due to the possibility that a rare lizard on site may be listed as an endangered species by the state.

Construction halted Wednesday at the Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, being built by Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar, in the wake of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's accepting a petition to list the flat-tailed horned lizard as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.

Any species being considered for listing under CalESA automatically gets the full protection of the law until its fate is determined, and that means contractors at the Tenaska site must now proceed as though the lizard is officially listed.

Construction will remain halted until Tenaska acquires permits from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The company says it expects that will happen next week.

Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West, which would generate up to 150 megawatts of power, began construction in December 2014 on 1,100 acres of abandoned farmland west of El Centro. That's right in the heart of flat-tailed horned lizard habitat, and the lizards don't make it easy for construction workers to avoid killing them. Three inches long and well-camouflaged against the desert soil, the lizards' primary means of defense against predators is to freeze in place. That's not a particularly helpful strategy when the "predator" threatening you is actually a piece of earthmoving equipment.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has a year to decide whether to list the flat-tailed, which has lost most of its potential habitat in California's low desert to suburban and agricultural development. Imperial County's burgeoning solar industry has been cited as a serious potential threat to the county's remaining flat-tails.

Workers hired to build the Tenaska project are still collecting paychecks while they've been idled, according to a report in the Imperial Valley Press. One contractor working on the site told IV Press reporter Alejandro Davila Fragoso that his company is losing $146,000 per week due to the delay.

Support Provided By
Read More
Apartments in Los Angeles

L.A. City Council Passes Motion to Fund Second Round of COVID-19 Rental Assistance

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously today to approve funding from the federal and state governments for a second round of the city's COVID-19 Emergency Renters Relief Program, which will help thousands of families.
Volunteers handle food donations in Tokyo, Japan

Pandemic Highlights Japan's Poverty and Food Insecurity

As job losses surge due to the pandemic, demand for food handouts has skyrocketed in Japan.
An education worker receives a vaccination at a mass vaccination site in a parking lot at Hollywood Park adjacent to SoFi stadium during the Covid-19 pandemic on March 1, 2021 in Inglewood, California.

COVID-19 Vaccine Effort Expands to Teachers, Other Workers

The pool of residents eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations vastly expanded in Los Angeles County today, with teachers and other essential workers added to the list of those who qualify for vaccines.