Major utility scale solar power plant proposal takes tentative step forward

The Saguache County Commissioners recently took the first step toward approval or denial of the San Luis Valley’s first utility scale, concentrated solar power facility, but conservation groups and local activists are already lining up to fight the controversial project.

Tessera Solar’s proposed 145-megawatt facility on 1,525 acres of public land was first submitted for approval under the county’s 1041 powers back in July. Their recent decision to deem that application complete means a 120-day approval clock is now ticking.

However, local activist groups such as the San Luis Valley Renewable Communities Alliance (SLVRCA) have raised questions about noise, water consumption and transmission lines proposed to get the electricity out of the remote mountain valley to markets in the major metropolitan areas of Colorado’s Front Range.

Another major Tessera project in the California desert, which recently won approval from U.S. Interior Secretary and former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has also been blasted by conservation groups. That project is one of the first proposed for public lands.

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