May 27, 2011

Retired brigadier general pushes renewable energy for armed forces

BARSTOW • A retired brigadier general presented renewable energy and energy conservation as a way to save billions of dollars in the wars overseas at a Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce discussion on Thursday afternoon.

Retired Brig. Gen. Steven Anderson -  who used to work for Gen. David Petraeus in Afghanistan - said the Barstow area could be at the forefront of a push to get renewable energy into the armed forces.

According to Anderson, Barstow has a climate that is very similar to Afghanistan's, with an abundance of both solar power and wind energy at its disposal. Anderson said that $20 billion a year in fuel was spent to air conditioning structures in Afghanistan and Iraq and technologies developed in the desert could reduce both the cost of fuel and the number of casualties of soldiers who protect the fuel shipments on their way to bases in Afghanistan.

"It's bigger than Barstow," said Anderson in an interview, and added that renewables developed in the Mojave Desert could be used in Afghanistan. "There are some profound natural gifts here."

Anderson visited the future site of the Abengoa Mojave Solar project on Thursday and said he planned to visit both the Marine Corps Logistics Base and Fort Irwin to explain his stance on renewables. 

First Solar makes presentation on proposed solar project near Ivanpah

First Solar - a solar photovoltaic manufacturer - has proposed building a 300 megawatt solar project near the BrightSource Ivanpah project - currently under construction near the California-Nevada border.

During a presentation on the project Monday night, director of project development Mike Argentine said the project will be located on 2,154 acres of Bureau of Land Management land and will connect with the Ivanpah transmission line at the Ivanpah substation. The Stateline project will create enough power for 90,000 homes, said Argentine.

Argentine said the panels used at the project should have a 25 year lifespan and will then be recycled at the end of their useful life. The project will also use a minimal amount of water, because the panels should only have to be washed once a year.

Argentine said at the meeting that 12 desert tortoises were found at the site - mainly in the northern portion - during surveys done at the site. Argentine said that the panels can be moved to avoid tortoises.

Construction on the project may begin in 2013, but Argentine said it depends on the completion of the Ivanpah project. The project will create an estimated 400 construction jobs and 12 permanent jobs. 

Bill seeking renewable energy siting on disturbed lands passes committee

A proposed state bill that seeks to site renewable energy projects on contaminated lands passed the Committee on Natural Resources this week and is headed to the Committee on Appropriations.

AB 644 was proposed by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley) and would create incentives for the development of renewable energy projects on lands unsuitable for other uses - such as closed landfills, brownfields and degraded agricultural lands without access to water. 

State bill would use school lands for renewable energy

AB 982 was introduced by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) earlier this year and would require the State Lands Commission to attempt land exchanges with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in order to form large parcels of land that can be used for renewable energy projects.

School lands were granted by the federal government to provide financial support for the public school system. The bill states that the majority of the school lands in California are remote desert lands that are not producing revenue because they are isolated and consolidation of these lands would be more effective and would help produce more revenue for schools.



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