Monday, May 17, 2021 | 2 a.m.
The May 7 editorial “One way or another, solar power must be part of Nevada’s energy landscape,” concerning the Gemini Solar Project, leaves out a lot of details.
This huge utility-scale solar project is poorly sited on prime Mojave Desert vegetation with desert willows, catclaw acacias and several species of rare native plants. One is the critically imperiled threecorner milkvetch, which lives almost exclusively in sandy flats in Clark and Lincoln counties.
Rare Nevada plants, such as the Tiehm’s buckwheat at Rhyolite Ridge, have been making the news over proposed lithium mines, yet the threecorner milkvetch is in such danger that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service undertook a review for potential listing it as an endangered species. This was in response to a petition filed by Basin and Range Watch and Western Watersheds Project.
The beautiful washes and creosote deserts at the Gemini site, next to the Muddy Mountains Wilderness Area and along the scenic route to Valley of Fire State Park, are public lands. They are not a renewable resource. We cannot continue to build 10-square-mile solar projects that gobble up huge areas of wildland for much longer.
It’s 2021, and distributed energy resources have advanced greatly, including rooftop solar, redundant microgrids, load-shifting, storage and islanding from the distribution grids when needed. Rooftop solar should be pushed much more in Nevada, with better net-metering policies.
Solar carports alone could add thousands of megawatts of clean energy while preserving our open spaces, rare plants, and natural heritage.