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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Rep. Susie Lee tour Townsite Solar Farm (Photo: Solar World Online)

Solar Farm Uses Twenty Million Gallons of Water in Two Months

Dust control efforts include keeping the ground wet to prevent dust from blowing away

By Megan Barth, November 28, 2021 1:00 pm

Depending on what science you subscribe to, Lake Mead is at historic lows. So much so that Democratic politicians, including Vice President Kamala Harris, used Lake Mead as a poster child to push the Green New Deal and other tax-and-spend policies to combat climate change.

As reported in The Nevada Globe, “With Lake Mead in the backdrop, Vice President Kamala Harris, flanked by Nevada Democratic colleagues Steven Horsford, Susie Lee and Dina Titus, pushed to sell the Biden administration’s Build Back Better agenda which includes raising taxes to combat climate change.

‘The Build Back Better agenda will help us tackle the climate crisis with investments in clean energy and electric vehicles, and so we can reduce emissions,’ she said. “And why do we need to reduce emissions? Because that is part of what is contributing to these drought conditions.”

On the very same day of Harris’s visit to Lake Mead, the Clark County Commissioners published “Transform Clark County“–a 400 plus page master development plan which reworked and rewrote zoning ordinances and regulations to transform Clark County into an ‘equitable, diverse, and climate-resilient’ county.

Within these pages are a plan to develop a portion of 39,000 acres of land the County had previously purchased from BLM in unincorporated Clark County to develop low-income housing and multi-family developments–interspersed with single family housing, retail and businesses.

In early October, Governor Steve Sisolak touted that Nevada “leads the nation in terms of solar production” during a roundtable with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

As reported by Solar Power World, Secretary Granholm and Rep. Lee toured Townsite in June 2021, where Granholm proclaimed:

‘This solar plant is the perfect example of how we can use the potential in clean energy to create good-paying union jobs that grow the economy, reduce energy bills and address climate change,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will create millions of clean energy jobs all across the supply chain that will be needed to plan facilities, manufacture materials, install transmission lines and solar panels, and it’s going to help us get our country get to 100% clean electricity by 2035.”

A clean energy economy requires building solar farms, like Townsite, for solar production. The Townsite Solar Farm, developed by Rosendin Electric in Boulder city, has been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars by Clark County due to air quality violations.

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal:

“Since April, the county has fined Rosendin Electric nearly $220,000 for failing to control dust during construction of a roughly 1,000-acre solar farm off of Interstate 11. In all but one of the eight instances, Rosendin has not contested the fines.

The county says the company is putting its business interests ahead of complying with air-quality standards.

‘Well, from our perspective, they responded by continuing to be out of compliance and making business decisions that are based on how quickly they can get the project done, as opposed to implementing the best practices that are required in our air quality regulations,’ said Marci Henson, director of Clark County’s department of environment and sustainability.

Those dust control efforts include keeping the ground wet to prevent dust from blowing away.”

Buried within this story is how much water was used in May and June to keep the “ground wet” and from the looks of the fines, twenty million gallons of water is simply not enough to meet the environmental regulation standards for dust mitigation.

“During a July hearing with county regulators, Amy Sue Ambrose, environmental director for Rosendin, said the company was making its best effort to control dust on a challenging site, including spraying more than 20 million gallons of water at the site between early May and the end of June. (emphasis added)

In a statement, the company said it has taken steps to control dust on the site.

“The health and safety of the residents in Clark County are extremely important to Rosendin, and we understand that proper dust control is crucial, particularly in a desert-living environment,” the company said. “Rosendin is dedicated to monitoring and managing dust control on the Townsite Solar project.”

The company said it uses multiple approaches to control dust clouds in the area.

To date, Rosendin has spent $3 million on dust control, including using six full-time employees to manage dust at the site, the company said.

“Our employees are members of this community, and we value the health and well-being of all members of the Clark County community,” the company said. “We have received fines for dust mitigation, and we remain committed to doing everything we can to control dust. Dust compliance is a top focus for Rosendin, and our overall compliance on this project site has been positive. Rosendin is committed to working with Clark County and addressing the concerns that the community has raised.”

Seemingly the costs of a green energy economy come not only in the form of taxes, fines, and excessive land development, but from stripping the state of one of its most precious, natural resources during a ‘historic drought’. How much water has been used and will be needed to mitigate dust at Townsite?  The Nevada Globe has raised the concern of water usage for dust mitigation efforts by Rosendin in an email to the company and the county. We will update this story with their response.

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2 thoughts on “Solar Farm Uses Twenty Million Gallons of Water in Two Months

  1. If solar panels where put over paved parking lots then they would shade cars and dust would not be such a problem.

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