Solar Power

Solar Panel

The ongoing development of solar power promises a future where fewer fossil fuel resources will be required to provide the critical energy requirements of our time. But is it the ultimate solution to our energy needs considering the requirements for the commitment of enormous quantities of real estate on which to place these so-called renewable energy sources? Will our " wide open spaces " soon be occupied by gargantuan fields of solar devices that rob the earths flora and fauna of life giving energy? These are but a few of the questions facing us, denizens of the beautiful and serene but fragile deserts of the American Southwest.

Here in Newberry Springs our local experience with solar power has been a controversial installation on Mountain View Road of a 1.3 megawatt photovoltaic facility. Some years ago now, there were approved plans for a similar facility that promised a far lighter footprint than the one contructed by Soitec, a company with headquarters in Grenoble, France. The property has been taken over from the original owner, which had specified much smaller array platforms that would not have caused as significant an impact as the huge platforms that have actually been installed.

A substantial number of local residents on Mountain View have complained, to no avail, about the destruction of their local vista from the unsightly arrays, as well as the dust and sand from construction and ongoing denuding of property with the destruction of desert plant life which stabilizes the soil.

In March of 2014 a meeting was held between a number local community representatives and Soitec. Various questions related to the maintenance of the property and the responsiveness of the company to various concerns were raised, with a promise by Soitec to continue dialog with the affected Newberry Springs residents, and perhaps to address the issue of blowing sand from the installation.

As a result of issues raised not only by Newberry Springs, but also other areas of the high desert, the County of San Bernardino has taken note of concerns about various other solar installations in the high desert, and has actually in one case at least refused approval of other installations based on opposition to such installations, especially in populated areas.

The County has also created a web site, http://cms.sbcounty.gov/lus/Planning/RenewableEnergy.aspx, where concerned citizens can view renewable energy information. There was a site www.sparcforum.org where residents could express their concerns and get information about renewable energy policy, but the site is no longer maintained.