Environmentalists question solar plants

LAS VEGAS, March 23 (UPI) -- "Environmentally friendly" solar power plants planned for Nevada and around the U.S. Southwest may in fact devastate the local ecology, opponents say.

The problem, environmentalists say, is that tens of thousands of acres of untouched desert will have to be bulldozed for utility-scale solar plants, threatening rare and endangered plants and animals, the Las Vegas Sun reported Tuesday.


They are not against wind and solar power, many say, but favor "distributed generation" by rooftop solar panels and backyard wind turbines rather than massive power plants, the newspaper reported.

"I don't understand why so much emphasis has to be put on these gigantic projects that are taking up wild open space," Laura Cunningham of Beatty, Nev., said. "Deploying urban technologies like rooftop solar first, before we start bringing out the bulldozers, would be better for everyone."

While groups such as the Sierra Club support renewable energy development and its potential to reduce carbon emissions, many members are worried by how the technology is being rolled out, the Sun said.

"We just think it's happening too fast," Cunningham said. "There has been no planning from the government on where renewable energy should be built and how fast. There has been no discussion of how to balance the need for carbon-free electricity with massive environmental damage."


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