There is a great deal of concern, in our local desert communities about the “why” “how” and “what” of using the Mojave Desert to generate Renewable Energy(RE). Is it smart to clear precious habitats for large industrial scale RE generating facilities and transmission infrastructure? Are the current policies and practices really Green (Sustainable ) for these rural communities- animal, plant and human?
The  Mojave Desert is blessed with some of the best conditions for solar and wind power generation in the USA. This along with its proximity to major metropolitan areas, has presented residents and conservationists with  a “perfect storm” as they weigh the suitability of this major new land use.

A concerned local resident

  • Under AB 32, California has arguably the most aggressive global warming policy and renewable energy mandates (33% by 2020), in the world.
  • The federal government has asked that its managers, like Bureau of Land Management (BLM), encourage and streamline approval of large industrial scale projects in the California Deserts through the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).
  • The  Mojave Desert has plenty of government owned or private-cheap land, relatively close to the usage centers in Los Angeles and the essential transmission lines are often meters away.
  • The local people do not have a clear voice, and are poorly informed/educated on the economic, social and environmental ramifications of these projects.  A clear process is also not available to voice concerns, and suggest solutions to these complicated issues.

The huge financial incentives available have spurred: a mind-boggling rush of applications for RE projects and planning initiatives like the state’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) and SPARC (San Bernardino County’s RE amendment) to try and make sense of it all!  We all agree renewable energy is an important green or sustainable practice and see the common sense in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and reducing air pollution. The implementation of these  energy practices will take wise planning, good science, appropriate use of technology and most of all an careful evaluation of the context that it is done in. For example is destroying 177,000 acres of Desert, as proposed by the DRECP a smart move or would it be better to place small projects on roof tops and parking lots (the so called Distributed Power alternative), close to the point-of-use in urban areas, at local homes and businesses.


Current practice of complete habitat destruction for Industrial Scale Solar

Roof -Top Solar System on our Off-the Grid Home

Minimizing habitat destruction and wastage

So what is wrong with placing RE in the desert land and why all this angst at public information meetings? At the  October 29th DRECP public scoping meeting in Victorville almost 60  “locals” (of a 350+ crowd) voiced their concerns and proposed smart solutions and ideas that would better fit with their rural way of life, economy, and natural resources. Several of our future Blogs will look at the “pros and cons”, the science, the technology and thinking  behind these solutions.  Exploring the question of: Is Renewable Energy in the California Deserts really Green (Sustainable) or are we be all being Green Washed?- told that this is good for our economy, our community and our environment when it is not and the real reasons are money and political power.

Will  California be able to learn from past mistakes and poor planning ,as is so well articulated in this case study from Hawaii?

Let us apply the Precautionary Principle now. So that we do not look back in ten years and wonder how and why we allowed these rushed initiatives, built in the wrong place, with the wrong technology to destroy the sustainability of California, its precious deserts and communities. We have a great opportunity to do the right thing lets “just  do it”