Updated February 19.
Well, here’s another ridiculous environmental machination funded by We The People, however this one is scorching the feathers off of birds.
It’s a giant $2.2 billion solar-power project, located in the California desert 75 miles from Las Vegas, and it’s the first of its kind—and may be the last.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station opened earlier this month in the deserts of Southern California.
The $2.2 billion solar farm, which spans over five square miles of federal land, includes three towers as tall as 40-story buildings. Nearly 350,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflects sunlight onto boilers atop the towers, creating steam that drives power generators. To be specific the project received a taxpayer-funded $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee arranged by the Obama Administration.
The owners of the project, NRG Inc. and BrightSource Energy Inc., claim the plant is a major feat of engineering that can power about 140,000 homes a year. I say, what a joke! The massive power facility only feeds these homes electricity during the day. A similar sized natural gas facility would power well over a million homes 24/7.
Ivanpah is among the biggest in a rash of power-plant-sized solar projects that have begun operating in the past two years. Most of them are in California, where state law requires utilities to use renewable sources for a third of the electricity they sell by 2020. The upshot of this stupid law is that California’s already most-expensive-in-the-country electrical fees are guaranteed to go even higher!
Utilities owned by PG&E Corp. and Edison International have agreed to buy the pricey electricity generated from the Ivanpah plant under 25-year contracts.
Utility-scale solar plants have come under fire for their construction costs–Ivanpah cost about four times as much to build as a conventional natural gas-fired plant but will produce far less electricity. That makes for expensive power–at least twice as much as electricity from conventional sources. However neither the utilities that have contracted to buy the power nor state regulators have disclosed what the price will be, only that the inflated costs will be passed on to customers. How’s that for transparency?
Besides expensive electricity, there’s another serious problem. The Ivanpah plant is scorching birds that fly through the intense heat surrounding the towers, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The dead birds appeared to have singed or burned feathers, according to federal biologists and documents filed with the state Energy Commission. Ironically birds living in that region include federally protected species including Hawks, Owls, and Falcons; now they risk being instantly grilled in midair.
If this were a fossil fuel-based power generating facility and birds were dying the plant would be shuttered immediately. However this is greeeen energy. So the birds will continue to die while–get ready for this–the government conducts a 2-year study regarding the bird deaths
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