Environmental Stewardship & Concerns
Every action has consequences
Utility-scale solar projects that are located on inappropriate sites, like the proposed Hesperus Solar, can have catastrophic consequences for the environment and community, which include loss of wildlife habitat resulting in permanently reduced plant and animal populations; impacts to soil, water and air resources; and much more.
A range of adverse impacts are associated with the construction, operation, and decommissioning of industrial-sized solar power projects. Some of the concerns of local residents are outlined below.
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The applicant is a California-based company and a subsidiary of an international investment management firm based in Australia. Primergy has hired a Texas
based public relations and government affairs firm to influence the public and local policy makers to approve this proposal.
Stop Hesperus Solar is a group of concerned residents who believe that this proposal is inappropriate and would be harmful in a multitude of ways.
With a land mass 28% larger than the surface area of Lake Nighthorse. Primergy’s proposed development would be one of the largest in Colorado. The 1.900-acre site would include 500.000 solar panels. a 155-megawatt lithium ion battery storage system. dozens of currency inverters. a new electrical substation and nearly a mile of overhead towers and transmission lines.
The 1.900 acres that Primergy proposes to develop has been designated as High and Medium/High Critical Wildlife Habitat. It is a major migratory corridor and winter range for one of the state’s most vulnerable elk herds. In addition to this high priority habitat for elk. the site’s acreage and vegetation supports a diverse array of animals who would be displaced or put at-risk.
This industrial development would be surrounded by an afoot tall game fence that would remove the habitat of ambulatory wildlife. Although Primergy has proposed a 1.000 foot wildlife corridor in the middle of the solar panels. there is no scientific evidence indicating that elk and other wildlife would use the pathway as safe passage. rangeland. or permanent habitat.
The proposed solar installation would extend for about three miles along CR 141. a roadway that elk and other wildlife already must navigate. Primergy estimates that traffic on CR 141 would increase dramatically during the construction period with an estimated 2.532 additional semi/tractor trailer trips and 22.800 additional passenger vehicle trips. Risks to wildlife would escalate with this traffic surge.
Researchers also blame the “lake-effect” of huge solar installations for the deaths of migratory birds. With the installation of 500.000 solar panels and other components of the proposed development would require destruction of hundreds of acres of trees. native vegetation and the entire soil microbiome. Herbicides and/or soil scraping and compaction are common ways that developers clear huge swaths of land for industrial-scale solar facilities.
The proposed industrial-scale development poses threats to the watershed. aquifers. and the local water delivery system. Loss of irrigation water that replenishes local aquifers. along with the runoff and sedimentation from thousands of acre-feet of water used for the construction and maintenance of the site over its lifespan is likely to have cumulative impact on local water quality and quantity. In addition. the proposed second development is the site of a 200.000-gallon water storage tank and water pipeline that supplies
water to many nearby residents.
The proposed industrial development is within an area identified by the federal government as a very high wildfire hazard area where a fire can spread quickly and burn at high intensity. Industrial-scale production and conversion of electricity always presents risks of fire; lithium-ion batteries have documented risks of explosion; and the use and storage of fuels. lubricants. chemicals and waste at the site all carry specific risks. In addition. the proposed site includes an existing. exposed. natural gas pipeline. The area’s volunteer fire department would be responsible for protecting the safety and health of residents. employees. and wildlife.
The proposed development presents a range of additional. potentially harmful effects on and costs to the community. including: impact on the local housing market by hundreds of temporary construction workers. the impact of increased traffic and heavy equipment on roads and residents increased demands on county law enforcement. emergency and medical services. and volunteer firefighters visual impact to local residents for miles surrounding the facility decreased property values and related public revenues unknown costs to the future generation for decommissioning the proposed facility. removing hazards. and restoring the ecosystem to support natural vegetation and wildlife.
Despite the enormous risks to the natural environment and local residents. the proposed installation carries no promise of local benefit. No local jobs are guaranteed-during construction. operation. or decommissioning. None of the electricity generated is guaranteed to go to the county. Those certain to benefit are the landowners who would sell or lease existing agricultural and range land for conversion to industrial use. Primergy. and its investors.
Stay up-to-date on meetings, information about the process, the petition and how to get involved!