About this time last year, we reported on a proposed 1,900-acre solar farm that would be located on private property southwest of Durango, near Hesperus. While one would think the huge jolt of renewable energy the project would generate would be celebrated, it wasn’t so simple.
Sure, the solar farm, led by California-based solar energy developer Primergy, would feature a 155-megawatt facility capable of powering an estimated 56,000 homes a year. But neighbors in the predominantly rural area pushed back, arguing the massive development would destroy the landscape, negatively impact residents and disturb wildlife.
So a year later, where does the whole thing stand? Well, this past Thursday, neighbors opposed to the project, which formed a group called “STOP Hesperus Solar,” sent out an email that Primergy’s application had been withdrawn from La Plata County.
Lynn Hyde, La Plata County’s Community Development Director, said the application is considered withdrawn because a “finalized cost reimbursement agreement was not signed by both parties.”
Translation: Primergy did not provide a complete agreement form to reimburse the county’s costs associated with evaluating such a large and complex project.
In an interview with The Durango Herald, Primergy said it remains committed to the project but did not provide a date for when it intends to resubmit an application.
The whole situation highlights the strange push and pull of the need for renewable energy but not knowing exactly where to put all this infrastructure.
Hesperus residents say this project would increase fire danger and contaminate water, as well as impact property values. And, they say, it would disturb one of the largest migration routes used by big game traveling to and from the La Plata Mountains.
On that note, it was recently announced Colorado Parks and Wildlife is partnering with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to place 60 radio collars on deer in the area to collect survival, location and migration data. This, on top of winter helicopter surveys and radio-collared elk, will help understand the impacts of the project.
“One of the uses for this combination of data-collecting efforts is to document elk and deer spatial distribution and migration patterns in and around the Hesperus Solar proposed project,” Jamin Grigg, CPW Southwest region wildlife biologist, said in a statement.
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