Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Solar plant discussions part deux...

Just a reminder that the Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission will continue the meetings on the two proposed solar power plants tomorrow September 16th at 10:00am at the county administration building on Beale.

I was not there last week and haven't watched the video of the meeting online or otherwise. Judging from the articles published so far, it sounds like only the Albiassa owned plant made it to the public discussion. I am more interested in the Hualapai Valley Solar project (the one near the Red Lake area) as they are the group talking about using waste water produced by the residents in the Kingman area. I see it as a smarter way to use the 'precious' resource rather than allowing it to simply evaporate away after one use.

So if you are in the area, stop by and check out this meeting. Feel free to give some updates in the comments, share with everyone your take.

As a reminder of what went down at last weeks meeting, my good friend Dave Hawkins sent me the following article that will appear in this weeks Standard. It is posted below all italicized and all that.

Article provided by Dave Hawkins

Consideration of requests related to proposed development of a major solar power facility southeast of Kingman featured plenty of familiar debate between those who support and oppose the project. But discussion at the September 9 meeting of the Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission also included exchanges between a couple Commission members and Mike Horner, the Litchfield Park resident who owns the land where the 200-megawatt AlbiasaCorp. facility would be built and operated.

Member Mehdi Azarmi said the operation's consumption of groundwater has been the key issue of concern all along and that project officials need to be more specific and factual in that arena. Azarmi and Commissioner Carl Flusche said varying numbers keep surfacing in discussions.

``You gotta (sic) start being up-front and straight shooters with the people because otherwise you're not going to get the results that you want," Flusche said.

Horner responded that groundwater consumption was forecast between 1,000 and 4,000 acre-feet per year when the project was initially announced. He said engineering and design analysis has refined that figure to a current consumption expectation of 2,275 acre-feet per year.

Flusche said Commission members received e-mail and other communication from citizens who complained they didn't get straight answers during the series of public information meetings that project officials held in previous months. Horner said the complaints come from critics who can't reasonably consider the merits of the project.

``The data that was given at some of our meetings was not the data that some of the opponents were looking for and that's probably the reason that they blew up your phones or sent you 15 e-mails," Horner said. ``Anybody who knows me knows I'm probably more direct than courteous. I'm very direct and if I know it I will tell you what it is, and if I don't I'll tell you I don't know, but I'll find out. I don't come to these meetings to try to pull the wool over anybody's eyes."

Project critics, as they have whenever the solar facility has been the subject of a public meeting, spoke critically of use of technology that will consume groundwater. They repeated their concern that the water is consumed locally to generate power that will be sold elsewhere to the highest bidder.

Project officials and their supporters repeated their point that the power plant will serve as a stimulus to the local economy and take a necessary progressive step forward as the nation turns to cleaner energy production and the need to wean itself of its foreign oil dependance. They again noted the 1,000 jobs that would be provided during project construction and the 100-plus people who would be put to work to run the facility.

The discussion gobbled up about two hours, and the Commission adjourned the meeting without voting on Albiassa matters or other requests related to the larger Hualapai Valley Solar facility proposed north of Kingman. Both projects were to come back before the Commission in a continued hearing scheduled September 16.

(Look to future editions of the Standard for continued coverage of the solar power project proposals)

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