SunPower, First Solar, environmentalists reach agreement on 700 MW of PV projects

SunPower Corporation (San Jose, California, U.S.) and a subsidiary of First Solar Inc. (Tempe, Arizona, U.S.) announced that they have reached a settlement agreement with three environmental groups on two large solar photovoltaic (PV) plants under development in Central California.

The agreement between Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity and the solar companies should remove barriers to the development of the 250 MW California Valley Solar Ranch and the 550 MW Topaz Solar Farm.

“The projects are located in the Carrizo Plain, a core recovery area for endangered San Joaquin kit fox and giant kangaroo rats,” reads a joint statement of the solar companies and environmental organizations.

“While both companies have previously agreed to significant commitments to protect and preserve species in this important habitat area and have received project approvals based on environmental reviews by various federal, state and local agencies, with this agreement SunPower and Topaz commit to provide a suite of additional environmental benefits to further increase protection of the area.”

First Solar, SunPower to purchase additional land

Under the agreement, First Solar and SunPower also agreed to purchase an additional 36 square kilometers of land for preservation, in addition to the 69 square kilometers the companies had committed to, and to remove 48 kilometers of fencing from the area.

Additionally, the companies will not use rodenticides in the construction and operation of the projects, and to make additional financial contributions to help San Luis Obispo County acquire lots in undeveloped areas nearby for wildlife conservation.

California Governor Jerry Brown, who has moved to block environmental challenges to other large solar developments, commended the agreement.

Lawsuits slow big solar projects in California

Lawsuits by environmental organizations, Native American groups and organizations of rural residents and property owners have been a significant problem for a number of large PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) projects in California.

On August 8th, 2011, a judge in San Benito County, California, heard arguments from three environmental groups attempting to stop a 399 MW PV plant under development by PV2 Energy LLC (San Francisco, California, U.S.). A decision by Judge Robert O’Farrell is expected in the fall of 2011.

Source: solarserver

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