Re “Solar power's outlook not as sunny,” Jan. 12
The article shows that the desert may not be the best place after all to generate solar power.
As The Times points out, the move is away from large, industrial-scale desert plants and toward urban-based, mid-sized ones and rooftop solar: so-called distributed generation.
Urban solar built over parking lots and on rooftops eliminates the environmental damage of desert solar — along with the need for environment impact statements, new transmission lines to bring the power to the cities and the costly lawsuits brought against desert plants.
Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas offer square miles of rooftops for urban solar.
Put solar power generation in and near cities in the Sun Belt where the population is.
This article misses an important part of the picture.
Including projects on both public and private land, investor-owned utilities are currently purchasing power from more than 20 operational large-scale solar projects and have many additional projects scheduled to come online by 2017.
Utilities are indeed signing fewer and smaller renewable energy contracts, but this is due to the success of California's renewable portfolio standard program.
As the article notes, some large projects proposed in sensitive wild-lands did not succeed, and this provides a valuable lesson for our state going forward.
At the Sierra Club, we believe that solar projects should be developed sustainably, to avoid harm to sensitive plants and wildlife.
The writer is a senior campaign representative with the Sierra Club.