Saturday, December 1, 2012

AV Solar Ranch One’s Progess and Delays

In July of this year the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One was vandalized by an unknown source. The incident was reported in their monthly meetings to the local community. The damage costs are estimated to be $100,000. The vandal actually cut a transmission line and a water pipe about 2.5 miles from the solar project site. A report was filed with the local Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and a reward of $25000 has been posted by First Solar for information that leads to the prosecution of the vandal. They now have 24 hour security at the site. AV Solar Ranch One (AVSR1) is owned by embattled First Solar, whose stock was over $200 and dropped below $12 but has recovered a little. The project will move on for this 230-Megawatt photovoltaic solar power plant. There were also rumors of a verbal dispute involving the Los Angeles County Inspector and First Solar employees which led to a shutdown for two months. There are 3.7 million cadmium telluride thin film panels that First Solar was preparing to install at the Exelon facility but they are not Underwriters Laboratory-approved. State of California building and safety codes require UL approval of electrical connectors, but it is not the case in other States where First Solar Inc. operates. The issue has since been resolved. There have also been disputes with the local community over debris left by workers, 18 hour work shifts. There are also several individual communities in the area. At one of the community meetings, it was reported that Antelope Acres, some twelve miles from the Solar Ranch One location, was granted $100,000 for its town council, $10,000 for its 4H Club and $10,000 for a community center, among other considerations. First Solar also donated mitigation lands to Antelope Acres’ chosen desert conservancy, yet Fairmont Town Council whose residents live within 500 feet of the site, has been granted nothing. The company indicated that they considered Fairmount to be within the Antelope Acres Community. Well the Fairmont council members didn’t like that either. Also, many local residents complain that the solar panels are an “eye soar” to the landscape among the poppy fields and the distance mountains. The project is approved and it is moving forward despite the small issues for a project of this size. Californians say they want alternative power and jobs and progress yet they do not want them in their own back yard. If the State wants Solar and Wind projects then they have to be built somewhere, and Antelope Valley is a prime location for these projects.

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