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If the Judge's ruling blocking the construction of the Sunrise Powerlink through the Southern Californian desert, due to possible environmental damage, is upheld, it could doom the second phase of a massive 850 MW solar project. The project is among the first Stirling engine-driven solar farms, as pictured here.  (Source: Sterling Energy Systems)
The effort to tap solar energy in California's desert is grinding to a halt

California has long led the nation's solar efforts.  However, it is facing increasing legal pressure as the state's environmentalists clash over whether installing solar power is worth possible environmental damage.

The conflict was brought into sharp focus when activist judge Jean Vieth, an administrative law judge with the California Public Utilities Commission, struck down plans to build a high power transmission line from the remote Californian desert, effectively dooming the massive solar initiatives set to be built in the desert.

The desert project was a joint initiative by San Diego Gas & Electric and Phoenix-based Stirling Energy Systems signed in 2005.  It aimed to install 900 MW of Stirling solar power in uninhabited Southern Californian desert wasteland.  Stirling power is a method of concentrating sunlight with mirrors onto water fueling a Stirling engine, and is thought to possibly yield higher efficiencies than photovoltaic cells.  The plant would feature 34,000 dishes, each generating 25 kW.

Central to the plan was the construction of a suitable power transmission line.  SDG&E had partnered with Sterling Energy Systems to create the Sunrise Powerlink a $1.3B USD power line to bring the solar power to Californian cities.

The project was struck down by Judge Vieth, who argues that its 150-foot-high transmission towers, which would cut through Anza-Borrego State Park, could be environmentally damaging.  The park features many protective species and Judge Vieth calls the power lines impact "frightening".

The project has generated an 11,000-page environmental impact report, which is so long that few have taken the time to read it all.  Judge Vieth's decision alone was 265 pages.  In it she wrote, "The potentially high economic costs to ratepayers and the potential implications for our [greenhouse gas] policy objectives do not justify the severe environmental damage that any of the transmission proposals would cause."

The fight is far from over, though.  The public utilities commission meets in December to vote on whether to accept the Judge's ruling.  A commissioner assigned to review the case created an alternative, which they are also considering.  The alternative would be to move the route of the transmission line slightly, increasing costs, but potentially having less environmental impact.

Opponents of the project have argued that San Diego, the target for most of the generated power, already has enough rooftop space for urban installation of an equivalent solar installation.  The Judge has stated that she prefers this alternative.

COO Bruce Osborn previously stated to The Green Wombat, an online publication, that even if the Sunrise Powerlink was killed, there was still enough capacity to carry the 300 MW from the first phase of the project.  However, this will likely place more stress on California's already badly aging power grid.  Stirling still has its 20-year contract to supply up to 850 megawatts of electricity to utility Southern California Edison, a deal entirely unrelated, to fall back upon.

The case, while far from finished, illustrates an upcoming battle to be waged among once-allies.  As our nation embraces alternative energy, part of President-elect Barack Obama's ambitious national initiative, there will likely be increasing clashes between environmentalists supporting alternative energy installation, and those opposing it for possible environmental damage.

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...and it starts
By mydogfarted on 11/6/2008 9:33:05 AM , Rating: 3
let the political hoop jumping begin. Bets on if this judge has someone in her back pocket that does the urban installations? I don't doubt there is an environmental impact of cutting through the forest, but there is an alternative route to take and this judge is still going to back the 3rd plan.

Or perhaps I'm just jaded.

RE: ...and it starts
By Smilin on 11/6/2008 9:50:45 AM , Rating: 5
As an environmentalist this makes me sick.

There are trade offs people. Wind farms are indeed disruptive to migratory birds for example. Not nearly as disruptive as tons of coal fired plant emmissions though. You have to use rational thought and take the lesser of two evils. At the rate the environment is getting wrecked we don't have time to sit down, sing kumbaya, hug some trees and wait for a perfect solution.

We MUST act reasonably. You can ask business to make changes to help the environment. You cannot crush businesses so that they no longer exist. After all (again environmentalist speaking here) at the end of the day we don't really give a shit about the environment. We give a shit about the welfare of the human race. Having a good environment to live in is a means to an end.

This ladies and gentlemen is why we have appeals courts. There is a rational person somewhere in the judicial chain.


RE: ...and it starts
By TheSpaniard on 11/6/2008 11:03:15 AM , Rating: 5
yes, we do need to act reasonably.

but is covering the desert in solar panels really as environmentally friendly as placing a nuclear facility in a fraction of the space with a properly designed waste storage/recycling facility?

RE: ...and it starts
By nosfe on 11/6/2008 11:29:30 AM , Rating: 1
last i checked nuclear power plants need a ton of water for cooling so yes, a desert is the perfect place for nuclear power plants, why people are still building them only near big rivers is a big mystery to me....

RE: ...and it starts
By dever on 11/6/2008 12:17:21 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, San Diego is no where near water.

RE: ...and it starts
By TomCorelis on 11/8/2008 4:28:52 PM , Rating: 2
San Onofre Nuclear Station, anyone?

RE: ...and it starts
By teldar on 11/6/2008 1:43:21 PM , Rating: 5
I don't believe his post ever implied that the nuclear plan would go in the desert. That was your assumption based on his statement about the solar power installation in the desert.
Maybe you should read it again.

RE: ...and it starts
By FITCamaro on 11/6/2008 2:55:36 PM , Rating: 2
Last I checked they don't. There are reactor designs that don't need a large water source. Palo Verde uses waste water for cooling.

RE: ...and it starts
By nosfe on 11/7/2008 3:05:58 AM , Rating: 3
well i'm sure a desert produces tons of waste water; why are you nitpicking on details?

RE: ...and it starts
By Spuke on 11/7/2008 3:04:48 PM , Rating: 2
well i'm sure a desert produces tons of waste water; why are you nitpicking on details?
Why are YOU nitpicking on details? LOL!

RE: ...and it starts
By randomly on 11/8/2008 11:46:53 AM , Rating: 2
That's a deceptive statement. Palo Verde does use a lot of water, 20 Billion gallons a year. I would say that qualifies as a large water source.

It's the only reactor in the world that uses wastewater for cooling. Fortunately it's located near the 5th largest city in the US so there is enough waste water from 5 million people to do the job.

Nuclear reactors DO need a large water source of some kind. Period.

RE: ...and it starts
By Laereom on 11/8/2008 12:45:20 PM , Rating: 3
Fair enough. That doesn't mean they're still not the best option available, especially if you build them near large cities where they can use waste water. I somehow suspect salt water isn't an option, or it probably would've been mentioned by now. Then again, perhaps the massive heat from the nuclear reactor can be used to create a dual function desal plant and help keep our water supply up to demand without dramatically raising prices.

Then again, we aren't exactly industry insiders, so this is all pointless energy penis waving.

RE: ...and it starts
By TheSpaniard on 11/24/2008 8:05:07 AM , Rating: 2
I know this is a late response but....

ALL nuclear facilities in Florida were required to be capable of being "closed loop" ie huge cooling towers so they did not need fresh water

that was later scrubbed when some of the systems went closed loop and it caused the manatee population to dip because the water got too cold and they had forgotten what it meant to be a migratory species

RE: ...and it starts
By jiminmpls on 11/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: ...and it starts
By BladeVenom on 11/6/2008 12:56:37 PM , Rating: 5
The biggest exporter of uranium is our friendly neighbor to the north, Canada. The US has plenty of uranium reserves if we ever need to increase production. There's also Australia. We could easily get all the uranium we need from friendly western countries. But no you have to use dishonest scare tactics, trying to sound like we would be reliant on Russia.

RE: ...and it starts
By jiminmpls on 11/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: ...and it starts
By MatthiasF on 11/6/2008 2:46:06 PM , Rating: 5
Through a deal engineered by Clinton to get the Russians to disarm their nuclear warheads.

It's called the Megatons for Megawatts program.

Program is set to end in 2014.

RE: ...and it starts
By Keeir on 11/6/2008 1:37:53 PM , Rating: 5
And yet...

Applications to build new nuclear plants and extend lifespan of existing plants in the US are at a 20+ year high

Companys that make major Nuclear Plant subsystems have more orders than capacity to produce

Nations such as China are expanding Nuclear Capacity faster than any other source (China is also rapidly expanding Coal, Wind, and Hydro, but Nuclear surpasses each of these individually)

I think the Free Market has spoken, There is a significant case for Nuclear Power. Especially when compared to 15 cent per kWh Wind and 30+ kWh Solar.

Lastly, "Fuel Reprocessing is unproven and extremely expensive"

Last I checked, in 1976 India was able to use reprocessing technologies to create Nuclear Weapons (the possibility of which is the reason the US does not reprocess our Nuclear waste). France, Britian, and Japan have together 7 major reproccessing facilities. Sorry, these nations all find reprocessing to be acceptable in large scale.

RE: ...and it starts
By andrinoaa on 11/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: ...and it starts
By Spuke on 11/6/2008 5:30:30 PM , Rating: 2
The waste issue still has not been resolved.
I hate it when people can't read. The waste issue HAS been resolved through the use of newer technologies. Do some reading on the countries that presently use nuclear energy.

RE: ...and it starts
By Keeir on 11/6/2008 6:50:44 PM , Rating: 3
What you mean is none have been built where you can see them..

China plans to building 10-100 reactors in the next 20 years. I believe it has more than 20 under construction right now at around 10 sites.

France, US, Japan, Russia, Brazil, India, Pakistan, Iran, (the list goes on) either have plants under contrustion or plans awaiting regulatory approval.

The company that produces the Reactor chamber for the Westinghouse AP1000 will have new compedition because it simply can't produce enough parts...

RE: ...and it starts
By randomly on 11/8/2008 12:47:20 PM , Rating: 3
Changes in Nuclear fuel costs have much less impact on the cost of nuclear power since it's such a small percentage of the total cost. Fuel from mined uranium only accounts for $0.0047 / KwH. Only a part of this fuel cost is the cost of the uranium. A large part is the cost of enrichment and fabrication. Doubling the market price for Uranium only increases the generated electricity cost by about 7%

Operations and maintenance account for $0.013 /KwH, and the bulk of the rest of the cost is the capital expenditure to build the plant.

Fuel from reprocessing spent fuel is about 4.5x more expensive than fuel from mined uranium. If Uranium cost went up by 4.5x, reprocessing would be fully competitive and cap the fuel costs at that point. Electricity cost would only go up about 15%.

As pointed out by another poster, the amount of uranium imported from Russia is due to agreements to buy up their stockpiles to control proliferation problems. Western countries actually produce the bulk of the Uranium mined in the world.

A projected cost increase in Uranium of 5 fold by 2017 is unfounded. Please site your source for that statement.

Your statement about fuel reprocessing being unproved is completely false. Fuel reprocessing has been in constant use for many decades now. France alone reprocesses over 1000 metric tons of spent fuel a year.

There IS a business case for expanded nuclear power. The capital costs of construction is the dominant factor that determines the competitiveness of nuclear power. The current high capital costs are partially due to lack of skilled expertise and manufacturing capability because very few nuclear plants have been built in the last 20 years. Costs will drop as more plants are built and experience and manufacturing capability is increasing.

There is currently only one company that can forge the single piece pressure vessel needed for the modern Pressurized Water Reactors, and they can only make 4 a year. However they are doubling their capacity, and 9 other companies around the world are putting in large forging capability to meet those needs as well.

Prices will come down when supply catches up with demand.

RE: ...and it starts
By etekberg on 11/6/2008 11:55:20 AM , Rating: 3
I think that effectively makes you an anti-environmentalist. A REAL environmentalist would (secretly or possibly openly) want to crush all US business and bring the US down to third world nation status, where it rightfully belongs due to all its horrible actions of the past and present.

RE: ...and it starts
By Ammohunt on 11/6/2008 2:59:13 PM , Rating: 4
You mean like Barrack Obama?

RE: ...and it starts
By Enoch2001 on 11/6/08, Rating: 0
RE: ...and it starts
By rhuarch on 11/6/2008 10:52:39 AM , Rating: 5
The problem is that too many environmentalists aren't actually environmentalists. They are anti-establishment, and just use environmentalism as an outlet. Any time public opinion shifts too much in their political direction they have to become more radical in order to remain anti-establishment, which remember, is the real goal. Any rational, pragmatic, environmentalist should see that the potential benefits of the Solar plant vastly outweigh any potential potential harm to a ridiculously small fraction of some state park. The other thing to remember is that many environmentalists in their effort to remain anti-establishment have redefined "harm" to mean "change" so that any change to an environment is considered harm. I can probably sum up the 11,000 page report in one sentence. The potential environmental impact consists of Power-line towers spaced at regular intervals with a small dirt road running along side for maintenance crews.

RE: ...and it starts
By Parhel on 11/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: ...and it starts
By Parhel on 11/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: ...and it starts
By drebo on 11/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: ...and it starts
By marvdmartian on 11/6/2008 10:38:09 AM , Rating: 5
I'm no expert (by far), but can tell you that where I live, when the summer temps are hitting 100+ degrees, pretty much all the above ground critters are glad to have a piece of shade to sit in, and ride out the hottest part of the day. I've even seen jackrabbits sit in the shade provided by a power pole, and move a little bit (every so often) to stay in that shade.

That being said, maybe the desert critters will feel the same way? Who knows? I doubt anyone does, unless their name is Dolittle, and they can talk to the animals. ;)

Yeah, double standards exist, even among tree huggers. One wants clean energy, one wants to make certain that a power pole isn't going to ruin an animal's living space, another has concerns about the solar collectors doing the same thing. Like was said earlier, you learn to make concessions so that the job can be accomplished with the least overall impact.

RE: ...and it starts
By realsolar on 11/6/2008 12:29:08 PM , Rating: 2
there is a big misconception that these concentrating solar power plants only create shade for the animals and plants that still live underneath them. The truth is that the ground underneath them is scraped bare and leveled, so virtually nothing will live underneath them. That's one way that photoshopped photo that appears with the blog post is accurate: it shows the bare soil. To see a real concentrating solar plant, rather than this fantasy one, google the search words Kramer Junction concentrating solar power.

RE: ...and it starts
By Suomynona on 11/6/2008 10:46:18 AM , Rating: 3
I don't know if she's in anyone's pocket, but the idea that they can replace a large-scale solar farm like this with rooftop installations is laughable. The whole point of a project like this is that centralization allows them to generate power more efficiently, both in terms of solar energy used and in terms of money spent. Even if it's theoretically possible to generate the same amount of power with thousands of rooftop installations, it's very impractical.

RE: ...and it starts
By BarkyMcWoof on 11/7/2008 5:19:32 PM , Rating: 2
Get real. What's the real green agenda? Reduce the human footprint to zero. Eliminate humanity. Or reduce it to a eugenically manageable level of green intellectuals.

Deport these people
By arazok on 11/6/2008 10:01:50 AM , Rating: 5
Leave it to an environmentalist to find a way to object to a solar project.

We need to set aside a chunk of land somewhere in the world, and call it Enviroland. Anyone who calls themselves an environmentalist would immediately be deported to this wonderful place. They could show everyone how to build the utopia they envision. A place where everyone holds hands, freezes in the dark, and drinks tea from reusable wooden cups. The added benefit is that the rest of the world would be free to build a society based on reality, where 11,000 page environmental reports aren’t required to build a few towers in a forest.

RE: Deport these people
By DaveLessnau on 11/6/2008 10:37:11 AM , Rating: 4
...drinks tea from reusable wooden cups.

Except that even though tea is a natural beverage, it's farmed and is (usually, I believe) imported via oil-consuming, damaging-to-sonar-using marine life ships. Plus, the wooden cup, though made from a renewable product and is re-usable, comes from a holy tree of mother Gaia and is not allowed. They'll have to eat local grass and drink water from streams using only their hands as tools. Even then, I'm not sure if it would be allowed: they'll need an environmental impact study and some court cases to figure it out. Until then, they'll need to have an injunction against their eating and drinking.

RE: Deport these people
By arazok on 11/6/2008 10:56:18 AM , Rating: 3
Well in Enviroland, nothing is imported from the outside world. Environmentalism is about sustainability, so they must be 100% self sufficient. The tea would be grown on the roof of their 150sqft bungalows they made from animal dung. You’re correct, a wooden cup would necessitate a human murder a tree, which carries the death penalty in Enviroland. It would be made of driftwood, or stone – and only one cup per dwelling would be provided by the state, as two cups would be excessively wasteful.

RE: Deport these people
By Hieyeck on 11/6/2008 10:46:36 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe we can dump Mick there so he can stop posting this crap.
Then we can stop releasing carbon dioxide in the refining of silicon required for solar cells and keep the critical but toxic out of our water and lungs.

Hyppies. In their efforts to 'protect the environment', they only end up either damaging it more or displaying a total disregard for other human lives.

Good riddance to that solar farm. We need SUSTAINABLE, PRACTICAL solutions, not half-cocked ideas.

RE: Deport these people
By JediJeb on 11/6/2008 12:05:55 PM , Rating: 5
Then we can stop releasing carbon dioxide in the refining of silicon required for solar cells and keep the critical but toxic out of our water and lungs.

LOL what really so stupid about this comment is that this solar farm does not use solar cells or Cadmium telluride at all. Sterling engines use steam to produce the electricity by spinning a spherical resevoir. So in actuallity you are condeming a bunch of solar powered teapots for polluting the environment. I guess you proved just how badly Enviroland is needed.

RE: Deport these people
By surfponto on 11/6/2008 10:52:48 AM , Rating: 1
Sorry to say that nooone here has any clue about the real issue.

First of all SDG&E wants to put 150 foot steel towers through protected State Park land. This has neve been done before and sets a bad precedent.

Second Sempra and SDG&E have green washed this entire issue. It is not about renewable energy but in fact will give Sempra a market for its' imported LNG gas that it is bringing into Baja Mexico.
Please do a little research before you guys start knocking environmentalist.

Bob B.
Leucadia (San Diego)

RE: Deport these people
By arazok on 11/6/2008 11:08:01 AM , Rating: 2
First of all SDG&E wants to put 150 foot steel towers through protected State Park land. This has never been done before and sets a bad precedent.

I grew up beside a hydro transmission corridor. I never once saw any of those towers eat a bunny, or kill a tree. In fact, they quite predictably did nothing but remain exactly where they were build, doing nothing. I don’t need an 11,000 page document to tell me they are completely harmless.

Second Sempra and SDG&E have green washed this entire issue. It is not about renewable energy but in fact will give Sempra a market for its' imported LNG gas that it is bringing into Baja Mexico.

I like Natural Gas. It heats my home and cooks my food. It’s also very clean burning. What’s not to love?

RE: Deport these people
By 9nails on 11/6/2008 7:58:25 PM , Rating: 2
I never once saw any of those towers eat a bunny, or kill a tree. In fact, they quite predictably did nothing but remain exactly where they were build, doing nothing.

LOL! After several special effect movies, I can actually picture animated towers running a muck and trying to stomp on California Desert Rats and the wild rabbits.

I think that the physical structure of the tower is sane and stable. If only a bit ugly. But the problem is that they've taken blame for starting multiple California Wild Fires, which have crisped a few wabbits and trees. Wires wiggling in the wind create sparks. Those transmission lines are to blame. Which makes me wonder, if it can't be done above ground... Can these transmission lines be horizontal bored underground?

I know it's going to cost more but our trend for energy consumption isn't going to slow down. Green power generation must be considered. It's disturbing that a short sighted judge is missing the point in order to protect land so spartan that nobody visits. Therefore we all lose out. Instead putting the energy into writing these huge documents, an amicable solution could have been agreed upon.

RE: Deport these people
By on 11/6/2008 11:23:38 AM , Rating: 1
It would be easier to shoot a-holes like you off into space.

RE: Deport these people
By arazok on 11/6/2008 11:27:33 AM , Rating: 2
And the campaigning for President of Enviroland begins…

RE: Deport these people
By TSS on 11/6/2008 3:29:40 PM , Rating: 2
for a change i agree with *these* paticular enviromentalists.

creating a huge solar power plant in the desert to get rid of enviromental damage, only to run the power lines through a protected piece of forest? cmon.

this decision by the judge to not allow it looks to me like the sensible one. building the plant in the first place, doesn't.

i wish we could start living in a politically uncorrect world again. so we can stop calling everybody enviromentallists and start drawing a line again between stupid and smart proposals.

and use 11.000 page reports to find out everything about the impact when the project is designed, not 11.000 page reports on what's wrong with the design. it could help.

RE: Deport these people
By Ringold on 11/6/2008 9:03:26 PM , Rating: 3
We already have an Enviroland. This place is known as Zimbabwe. We also have a backup over-flow location; North Korea. Lowest carbon emissions in the world! WOHOO!

All I can do
By FITCamaro on 11/6/2008 9:49:52 AM , Rating: 3
Is sit back laughing my @ss off at different groups of environmentalists fighting with each other.

Besides I for one welcome the possibility of mutation of animals from exposure to EM radiation caused by high power transmission lines. ManBearPig could become a reality.

In all seriousness, I lived for a year in an apartment with high power lines right out my window. The EM was so bad that my it interfered with my CRT monitor. Do I have tumors growing all over me or cancer? No.

RE: All I can do
By Raidin on 11/6/2008 10:18:18 AM , Rating: 2
It just means you haven't found them yet.

RE: All I can do
By austinag on 11/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: All I can do
By Raidin on 11/6/2008 11:52:26 AM , Rating: 2
If you knew this guy, you'd understand.

RE: All I can do
RE: All I can do
By teldar on 11/6/2008 2:00:22 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I think it was a pretty reasonable response. FIT has no way to know for sure that he doesn't have some sort of cancer. It's not necessarily completely obvious. Cancer can grow for YEARS in a person before it's known about. Slow growing cancers do NOT kill a person a few months after they start to grow in the body.

As a medical professional, I didn't think he was making fun of cancer, just pointing out the obvious.

RE: All I can do
By FITCamaro on 11/6/2008 2:49:33 PM , Rating: 1
He can hope, pray, and sacrifice small animals towards me and my family all suffer horrible, painful deaths all he wants.

For all he knows, the tumors I develop will give me super powers and let me explode his heart with a thought.

RE: All I can do
By andrinoaa on 11/6/2008 4:42:06 PM , Rating: 2
Fit, or glow boy, must be all of what, 15yrs of age? Just check his shoot from the hip responses in the last year or so. Every issue is black and white with these guys. They like to chant "I am right your are wrong" mantras all the time. Thats why I like to get stuck into them. I can't think of a single issue that is black and white, there is always a second side to everything. What can make a difference is using our intelligence to navigate carefully.

RE: All I can do
By andrinoaa on 11/6/2008 5:02:24 PM , Rating: 1
I meant to say, there is always a hint of gray that allows us to navigate carefully. Sorry, my confused brain at work, lol

RE: All I can do
By Ringold on 11/6/2008 9:05:32 PM , Rating: 4
Someone who absolutely rejects any notion of nuclear power at all wants to whine about someone with white and black views?

Oh boy.

RE: All I can do
By FITCamaro on 11/7/2008 7:57:20 AM , Rating: 1

By nah on 11/6/2008 9:39:45 AM , Rating: 1
use electricity at all ? why not revert to furs and flintstones ?

RE: Why...
By Raidin on 11/6/2008 10:16:22 AM , Rating: 2
Because you can't recharge your iPod with flint.

RE: Why...
By JoshuaBuss on 11/6/2008 1:25:52 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Why...
By vdig on 11/6/2008 10:31:28 AM , Rating: 2
Ah. Good idea. For a "modern stone age family".

RE: Why...
By Omega215D on 11/6/2008 5:41:02 PM , Rating: 2
Because then to use fur would be murder. Damned if we do, damned if we don't.

solar suit
By owyheewine on 11/6/2008 10:14:11 AM , Rating: 4
California keeps confirming that it is the land of fruits and nuts. I think we need to reposition the border fence to keep them from further contamonation the rest of the west.

RE: solar suit
By 9nails on 11/6/2008 8:13:48 PM , Rating: 3
The fruits are mad at the nuts over Prop 8. California might end up just a State full of nuts.

Hurry with your fence. The fruits are skilled decorators, but hard to live with.

environmental impact of report
By tallredeye on 11/6/2008 8:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
What is the environmental impact of a 11,000 page report and a 265 page decision?

RE: environmental impact of report
By FITCamaro on 11/7/2008 7:59:52 AM , Rating: 3
Only the rest of us aren't allowed to be wasteful. Remember Al Gore gets his own private jet, big SUVs to ride around in, and huge lavish homes. But the rest of us are evil for using an incandescent bulb instead of a new CFL bulb.

RE: environmental impact of report
By Spuke on 11/7/2008 3:23:00 PM , Rating: 2
But the rest of us are evil for using an incandescent bulb instead of a new CFL bulb.
When the new CFL bulb has mercury in the ballast and no one's told the average Joe yet that he/she can't just throw their blown CFL bulbs in the garbage.

Anyone want to bet that when "everyone" has CFL bulbs in their homes, the news media will find some "new" info that there's mercury in the ballasts. Then the environmentalists will denounce CFL's and pretend they never told anyone to use these.

Get informed before judging
By realsolar on 11/6/2008 12:24:03 PM , Rating: 3
So it takes 1000s of pages of environmental review to assess a project, but readers of this blog can make up their minds in 5 seconds? There's room in the middle of that spectrum for a reasoned examination of the facts. Here are several:
*A power line is not a "renewable energy" project. There is no requirement that this power line carry any renewable energy at all. (And Stirling Energy Systems is in no way associated with it, as the post implies.)
*In the early 1980s, the same company, SDG&E, promised that the Southwest Powerlink would carry renewable energy as a way of selling it to the public. Today, that power line carries less than 5% renewables.
*There is no commercially viable dish-Stirling system. That photo is Photoshopped, because these things don't exist in that number. Currently there about 5 hand-built models running at Sandia National Labs, and they have tremendous problems with reliability, which as DailyTechies should know is a killer for any power plant. To think that they'll be able to ramp up to making thousands of these units in a couple of years is a fantasy, like the photo.
*If SDG&E were serious about putting solar power on the Sunrise Powerlink it would have contracted with a company proposing to build a conventional concentrating solar thermal plant in Imperial Valley.
*SDG&E's parent company Sempra, has invested billions in developing LNG import infrastructure that includes a pipeline passing just south of the Sunrise Powerlink's starting point, across the border near Mexicali. There are also two gas-fired power plants at this location, and there could be more. The real and obvious reason SDG&E wants to build the Sunrise Powerlink is to import that gas-generated power into Southern California, and the renewable energy claim is just greenwashing. Defeating the Sunrise Powerlink is not a defeat for renewable energy. This is why the Sierra Club, which supports some Big Solar in the desert and has a stakeholder on California's Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative, is opposed to this particular power line.
*The blog post mentions the alternative routing proposed by a CPUC commissioner, but doesn't mention that this alternative requires SDG&E to provide assurances that this line really will carry renewable energy. Given the uncertainty over those Stirling dish systems, it's somewhat doubtful that SDG&E will be able to meet these assurances. Requiring this power line to really carry renewable energy should count as a victory for renewable energy advocates, not a defeat.
*Rooftop Solar: readers of this blog don't seem to be aware of the advances in Cadmium-Telluride thin film solar panels. This cheaper technology has revolutionized the solar industry so that this type of photovoltaic is now cheaper than concentrating solar power. That's why Southern California Edison announced a project for 1000MW of rooftop solar on commercial buildings to be installed over the next 5 yeears. In addition to being cheaper, there's no need for a $2 billion power line to deliver the energy. The marketplace will inevitably switch to this technology, unless government subsidies skew the marketplace toward Big Solar. The fact that this technology can be placed on existing built surfaces makes it environmentally superior to Big Solar.

RE: Get informed before judging
By Suomynona on 11/6/2008 1:26:02 PM , Rating: 2
Do you have numbers on PV vs. CSP? Everything I've read has said that CSP is cheaper. Besides material costs, you can also centralize costs for maintenance, land leasing, etc. Obviously you know more about this particular project than I do, but in general it seems to make more sense for a utility to have a centralized solar plant.

Two Palm Head Shake>>
By snownpaint on 11/6/2008 11:18:53 AM , Rating: 4
So let me get this right..

They don't want to expand solar energy, because they don't want to cause environmental impact with transmission lines.
(two hands to my head, while shaking)

If they built a nuclear reactor, would they stick it next to the city, so they didn't have to run powerlines.

If they built another coal/oil burning power plant, would they build it next to the city.

Any power plant being built would be put out in the no-mans-land of CA.. Nobody wants to live next to it, and nobody would want their property values down-graded by having one built next their house..

After doing a little look up on this state park, one of the largest desert parks in CA. It seems to have two large golf course right in the middle of it "Borrego Springs Resort" and "Rams Hill Country Club" that the boarders of the state park surround. My understanding golf courses are not very environmental. Using tons of water, fertilizer, and such..

As for roof top Solar, that is great, however, it comes down to a grid system, and all kinds of power management on the local level.. Then of course there is the liability (suing when a kid gets hurt messing with it on his house 25kw), insurance (when the thing damages your roof in a bad storm), the eye sore (did you see the size of that reflector/panel)and many other things.. maybe they might have better luck asking SanDiego'ins if they would like subsidies for purchasing one and putting one on their house. eliminating state risk.

Or maybe that judge would like it on her house..

Concentrated solar vs distributed
By kontorotsui on 11/7/2008 3:55:35 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't one of the benefits of solar power to be distributed everywhere the sun shines enough?
The most overlooked statement about solar power is that has zero transportation costs and no investments in power infrastructure.
I don't agree with the judge ruling, but in my opinion solar power is better used with solar panels (thermal and photovoltaics) on each roof, be it industrial, commercial or residential (Simcity rules :) ).

By Murloc on 11/7/2008 10:30:20 AM , Rating: 2
this a solar concentration system, you can't distribuite it.
It's better than photovoltaic and it doesn't requires silicon for doing the panels.

The thermal panels should be in everyone's roofs, you can heat water without wasting money.

I love it
By mendocinosummit on 11/6/2008 10:00:35 AM , Rating: 1
I love it how one pissed off hippie with dough can impede the advancement of America and greater need of the people. Coal, nuclear, and now solar all are bad for the environment, even in a desert, according to many groups. They actually don't give a shit. All they want is their quarter cent per kW/h settlement and that is why America is were it is today.

RE: I love it
By wordsworm on 11/6/2008 8:20:48 PM , Rating: 2
She's not impeding the solar panels, it's the powerlines that she's against.

What I hate is how trailer trash with cash treats the environment like their own toilet bowl. Most hippies want progress as much as everyone, but not at the expense of the environment. They want technology as much as anyone. They just don't like the idea of causing mass extinctions, global warming, deforestation, etc. If we put an effort behind green technologies, even if they're at a greater cost to human effort, that just means more jobs anyways. What's wrong with that? Doing things right often costs more, takes more effort, and is generally harder to implement. Nonetheless, it's very important that we not rape nature to get what we want.

What is wrong with you people?
By NicePants42 on 11/6/08, Rating: 0
RE: What is wrong with you people?
By teldar on 11/6/2008 2:09:13 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the Sterling Power Systems are only in on it to build the hardware for the site, not the transmission lines. That's the parent electrical company who would be building the lines.

By andrinoaa on 11/6/2008 4:54:40 PM , Rating: 1
its obvious that the people here are just venting their biased redneck spleens. These people react the way GW Bush ran the country, All kick and no THOUGHT PROCESS. Didn't these guys learn anything at school? They keep chanting the same bullshit about enviromentalists. Do we say "line up all the neocons and shoot them " ? After all, just look at the mess they left everyone. I just don't understand this "intellectual desert" mentality that is so prevalent on this tech blogg.

By Suntan on 11/6/2008 1:00:05 PM , Rating: 3
So a whole bunch of people all decide to grossly overpopulate a large and relatively remote, hot, dry, stretch of land. Procede to further cut themselves off by allocating most of the land surrounding it to National Parks/Forests, then bellyache when someone else can't provide them with all the convienences they need to live life the way they want to while not messing up anything they have already grown accustomed to...

Gotta love California.


It's idiots like this
By qdemn7 on 11/6/2008 10:29:40 AM , Rating: 2
That make normal people want to do bodily harm to environmentalists.

By SectionEight on 11/6/2008 11:05:39 AM , Rating: 2
Aside from everything else Congress has done, or failed to do, this is probably the worst: failing to protect new energy sources from situations like this. When nuclear power was on its way to becoming our dominant energy source, Congress failed to pass legislation protecting the plants from frivolous lawsuits. As a result, people filed lawsuit after lawsuit while the plants were being built, causing them to sit idle and rack up billions of dollars in interest on the loans. Many companies gave up; those that fought every lawsuit did prevail, but ended up with debts twice what they planned for and should have had.

Now that Congress wants us to get more energy from renewable sources, they have failed to protect these sources from similar situations. Nuclear, solar, wind, and hydro power aren't cheap, but the failure of our government to protect the investments of the companies from frivolous lawsuits will mean we will be using established energy sources until we run out or Congress wises up and decides to protect what they mandate we build.

By raphd on 11/6/2008 11:06:50 AM , Rating: 2
"activist judge"
By VooDooAddict on 11/6/2008 1:16:24 PM , Rating: 2
"activist judge" - I'm getting sick of this description and the way it's thrown around.

The issue here isn't the judge it's the over-reaching environmental laws.

Ironic as hell
By Balgarath on 11/6/2008 5:09:26 PM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one finding humor in the fact proclaimed environmentally friendly solar panels are being gunned down by other environmentalists?

How hard would it be?
By wordsworm on 11/6/2008 8:12:21 PM , Rating: 2
How hard would it be to set up a hydrogen generator here? Ok, so you'd have to import some water on some trucks. Seems to me this would be the perfect opportunity to create a gasoline alternative.

By Graviton on 11/6/2008 9:53:40 PM , Rating: 2
This judge needs to determine if laws are being broken or if laws are unconstitutional and hand down judgments accordingly. That's it. If she wishes to set policy, then she should have become a legislator.. not a judge. The other branches of government and the people of her state should rightfully be horrified at any judge so drunk on power. Sadly, there are many more out there just like her..

That's liberals for you
By phxfreddy on 11/6/2008 11:23:34 PM , Rating: 2
Complain complain complain....even when there are NO side effects. The power line issue is an imagined one. At worst a cosmetic issue and nothing else. Were I a Stalinist I would take them out and shot them in the head. Oh wait Obama is a Stalinist. Yay!

I am not sure....
By TomCorelis on 11/8/2008 4:27:30 PM , Rating: 2
...but I think I just wrote off environmentalists completely.

I live in San Diego county. We need this electricity. You don't want to run it through Anza-Borrego? Fine. Re-route it. Stuff like this needs to be built, now.

By Atlantys on 11/9/2008 3:58:20 PM , Rating: 2
Think that judge start to be mental retarded and the only alternative will be ,send to the Nursing home and replaced by a healthy mind one and this must happen fast .

desert enviromentalism
By trashx1 on 11/6/2008 4:00:01 PM , Rating: 1
first off,this is fucking great that a federal judge scrapheaped this plan as for a multitude of reasons that have been explained allready

By on 11/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: interesting
By JediJeb on 11/6/2008 12:14:27 PM , Rating: 2
Sterling engines don't use solar cells, read up on them. The manufacture of solar cells has nothing to do with this project. It's nothing more than a bunch of steam engines heated by the sun to make electricity.

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