un-Monumental, or “How Solar Energy Went Bad”

hodin-09-17-09Covering literally square miles of dry land farmland adjacent to a national monument containing one of California’s highest concentrations of endangered species with industrial scale solar thermal and photovoltaic panels would normally seem contradictory. I would hope. In the case of the Carrizo Plains, or in the local dialect, Carissa Plains, what is taken for granted as an asset (open spaces, quiet, vast pastoral expanses) becomes quaint and embarrassingly easy to overlook. This is nothing new. Farmers and ranchers all keep the dream of a boom year close. There’s a mental list of the essentials that need upgrading, the vacations deferred, the extravagant purchase. The farmers and ranchers have already banked their land sale profits.

With the three utility scale projects planned for the plains, lots more people are dreaming of wealth. The local utility which has contracted with the solar project owners. The daily newspaper editorial board. The free-market delusionists. The state Sierra Club energy chair. The list is long.

Who will speak for the residents who have no voice? The feathered, the fur-clothed, the scaled, the winged, the buzzing, the cawing, the slithering, the hooved, the clawed, the burrowing, the soaring. Who? Who?

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