Largest U.S. Solar/Wind Hybrid Project Proposed for Antelope Valley

Californias Antelope Valley is a 3,700 acre site, home to burrowing owls, coyotes, foxes, rabbits, and deer. It boasts a bright and colorful poppy preserve, and the natural views help make it a popular horseback riding and hiking spot. It also sees strong winds and a lot of sun, which makes it ideal for Americas biggest wind-solar hybrid farm yet. As Element Powers Wildflower Renewable Energy Farm Project manager Nat Parker says, The trees grow sideways and the sun burns bright.

The ambitious project, citing and 150 megawatts of wind, is slated to cover just 22% of the land on-site in two separate locations 840 acres in total. The northern site is to hold all of the solar panels, as leveling the southern sites topography to accommodate the arrays would be both difficult and disruptive to the local ecology. 33 3-megawatt wind turbines would join the , while the southern farm would hold just 17.

What About the Wildlife?

Element Powers formal proposal also includes 347 acres of conservation area, adjoining the existing protected areas, and includes football-field-wide wildlife migration corridors. A total of 1,000 acres in the southern site will be left undeveloped so as to preserve wildlife habitats.

Parkers team studied the area closely for a year before finalizing the proposal. We know from having been out on the site, the former Sierra Club Regional Manager explained, that it is good burrowing owl habitat [and] that it has elevation features that make it an avian species foraging area — and we also know that people like to ride horses into the area. Element Power is committed to protecting that land for those uses in perpetuity. The southern energy farm has greater wildlife movement because it sits very close to the Portal Ridge area just south of our project, he added, explaining why the company would not undertake the earthwork necessary to build more solar there.

Also included in the proposal was a new network of trails for both hiking and horseback riding visitors will still have gorgeous scenic views of the valley itself and its famous poppy reserve.

Local Support and Opposition

The project is not without some opposition, although polls commissioned by Element Power indicated for development of renewable energy. While communities closer to the immediate vicinity of the project were less positive, Parker feels that these are projects that will have huge economic and jobs benefits for the entire Antelope Valley and points out that even in the closest small community, strong opposition was only 27%.

Element Powers report on is currently in development and will be available in two weeks.

Key Points

  • 840 acres of Antelope Valleys 3,700 acres requested for solar/wind farm
  • 2 sites proposed northern and southern
  • 347 acres of conservation area included
  • 1000 acres preserved as wildlife habitat in perpetuity
  • 6.7 miles of new horseback riding/hiking trails
  • 100 megawatts of solar power
  • 150 megawatts of wind power (50 turbines in total)
  • 43% total opposition but only if poppy preserve were to be affected
  • 27% strong opposition nearest to site

Any thoughts on putting solar panels in wind farms in Antelope Valley or anywhere else? Let us know what you think, in the comments, below.


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