Largest Potential Solar Farm in U.S. Halted After Local Protests

Nevada’s Moapa Valley. Image: Ken Lund/Flickr

Last week, the Battle Born Solar Project in Nevada, which would have been the largest solar farm in the US, was canceled after a coalition of local activists lobbied against it for being an “eyesore.”

As Electrek reported,

California-based Arevia Power and Solar Partners VII LLC withdrew their application with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) last week in the face of opposition from a group called Save Our Mesa.

Why This Matters: As Sammy Roth wrote for the LA Times earlier this year, there’s a lot riding on whether people think solar and wind farms are ugly or beautiful.

NIMBYism, as it pertains to renewable energy, public transportation, and even affordable housing, is not a new problem. Unfortunately, opposition to renewable energy projects arises in places that are some of the best sites for solar and wind development (like California’s Tehachapi Pass).

NIMBY groups are able to tie up the development of renewables projects in court for years until the cost of development becomes infeasible. In order to comprehensively act on climate change, we need to drastically scale up solar and wind in the United States, doing so will necessitate streamlining processes like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as well as other measures that can fast track these projects.

Go Deeper: Michael B. Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, wrote a great paper on how we can begin to streamline renewables projects.

Mormon Mesa Mess: The group opposed to the construction of Battle Born project is made up residents and environmentalists who feel that the solar farm would hinder hiking, camping, driving off-highway vehicles, and horseback riding and deter tourists from visiting artist Michael Heizer’s environmental sculpture, “Double Negative” (1969).

The California-based Arevia Power who is behind the project told TV station KLAS that

the arrays would have been set back and not visible from the valley below. The company had estimated the project would create 2,600 jobs and provide daytime energy needs to 500,000 homes.”

Yet, it didn’t seem as if the Bureau of Land Management ranked Battle Born as a high priority project to begin with. As Kirsten Cannon, a BLM spokesperson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The Battle Born project rated as low priority both in the initial ranking and after the proponent provided additional information and requested reconsideration.”

Arevia Power and Solar Partners VII LLC said they would look for alternative sites for the array.

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