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Antelope Valley Solar satisfies Sierra Club concerns

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MidAmerican Solar, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Renewables, has marked the start of one of the largest planned solar projects in the United States.

MidAmerican Solar and Silicon Valley based SunPower are building the 579-megawatt Antelope Valley Solar Projects. (PRNewsFoto/SunPower Corp.)

The Antelope Valley Solar Projects are being constructed on what once was an old alfalfa field, and will provide enough clean energy for 400,000 homes. Once online in 2015, the solar PV projects will provide 579 MW to help California meet its renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reductions goals, as well as displace demand for fossil fuels like coal or natural gas.

The project is moving ahead after concerns voiced by the Sierra Club.

"The developers listened to our concerns about the local lands and wildlife in the Antelope Valley and incorporated them into the planning and siting for the project," said Georgette Theotig, lead volunteer on renewable energy issues for the Sierra Club Kern-Kaweah Chapter. "The proposal came out stronger for it, and we were proud to endorse the project and testify on its behalf during the approval process. Solar projects like this show it's possible to move forward with larger clean energy projects and respect conservation values at the same time."

The project location was chosen in strict accordance with conservation values, seeking to avoid harming wildlife or building unnecessary new infrastructure. The projects are located on previously disturbed private land that did not have any threatened and endangered species present. Although the project site is in the desert, it was being used to grow alfalfa and other crops that require significant irrigation, and switching from crops to photovoltaic solar will significantly reduce water use. The project also has an approved re-vegetation plan to control dust, a key local concern.

Because the projects are located near existing transmission lines, including a major substation, it was not necessary to build new high-voltage power lines through undisturbed land.  

For more:
- see this release

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