Developers of Solar Millennium, the massive solar-energy project to be built near Blythe, California, have announced a switch to photovoltaic panels that will to turn sunlight into electricity, according to a report in the Press Enterprise. The previous plan had been to use hyperbolic mirrors to generate steam to power turbines.
The news isn’t good for the local economy; the change in plan will likely halve the number of jobs the project was expected to bring, according to a report at The Desert Sun, and the project will be delayed by about a year while the company obtains new permits.
The Solar Millennium facility has riled some Natives concerned that it will harm the Blythe Intaglios, massive geoglyphs. In February, an Associated Press report drew attention to Alfredo Figueroa, whose group La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle has been filing lawsuits to stop construction of fast-tracked green energy projects on or near sacred sites. The company says it’s actively and adequately consulting with tribes in the area, and that it has moved the footprint of its planned structure to several times over tribal concerns. There is also some dispute over the nature of the sites. From the AP story:
“Where Figueroa sees an ancient throne in a pile of rocks and a thousand-year-old flute player carved into the desert floor, for example, federal experts see something less profound. BLM archeologists believe the flute player and so-called Throne of Quetsequatle are less than 50 years old, with modern concrete used in the throne’s construction.”