Two separate but significantly-sized PV power plant projects planned for in the San Luis Obispo County region of California by First Solar and SunPower have agreed to greater environmental considerations and subsequently higher but yet identified costs to enable the go-ahead of the projects. The solar companies signed the agreement with a trio of conservation organizations: Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club.
A total of approximately 26,000 acres or about 40 square miles of land in the Carrizo Plain will be protected and preserved under the required permits for the PV plants, an increase of more than 9,000 acres, primarily to support habitat for endangered San Joaquin kit fox and giant kangaroo rats.
Topaz Solar Farms, a subsidiary of First Solar, and SunPower will also make further ‘significant financial contributions’ to help San Luis Obispo County acquire lots in the largely undeveloped subdivision in the Carrizo Plain to restore for wildlife conservation.
Other conservation measures in the new agreement include 30 miles of existing fencing to be removed from the area, allowing for greater wildlife movement around the projects, while wildlife-friendly fencing will be erected around each solar power plant.
Also agreed is that no rodenticides would be used in the construction or operation of the projects and that the companies would help fund efforts to eliminate rodenticides on the Carrizo Plain and in other San Joaquin kit fox conservation areas.
SunPower's California Valley Solar Ranch in the area is planned to be a 250MW plant, while Topaz's is planned to be more than double that figure, at 550MW.