Solar Energy and the Feasibility Study. What Does It Mean?

The United States has lagged behind western European nations in getting solar energy projects off the ground for the last two decades, but now, with the price of oil sky high and global warming being taken seriously, venture capital is pouring in. Florida, California, and the desert Southwest lead the way in both operational and planned solar power plants to provide cheap renewable energy to hundreds of thousands of residential and commercial customers. Michigan’s sagging economy is being boosted by green entrepreneurs who are turning out solar panels and roof tiles using the skills of unemployed Detroit auto workers. The future of solar looks bright.

But wait. Here comes the government. Late last month, The Feds put a moratorium on new applications for solar power plants planned on government land pending a massive environmental impact study. The Bureau of Land Management which administers more than 100 million acres in the western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah where most large scale solar development is concentrated, is concerned about potential effects of solar plants on nature and wildlife. The study will take up to two years to complete and will address potential effects on vegetation, water use, and animal life. Environmentalists and solar energy companies are worried that the study could effectively cripple a nascent industry, at least temporarily.

Oddly enough, there is no slowdown in the construction of new coal burning plants, especially those using the new clean coal technology. Worldwide at least one new coal powered plant goes into operation every week. In addition, lifting the 30 year ban on offshore drilling in US coastal waters is even now being considered by the American Congress. This would certainly have a negative impact on water and wildlife not to mention the economies of places like the Jersey Shore. But nobody seems to want to do a feasibility study on that. Kind of makes you wonder what’s really going on, doesn’t it?

Photo by Per Ola Wiberg..(PO...or Powi) Thank you!


  1. Good point! Cheap solar energy could put a lot of people out of business.

  2. It is amazing the amount of regulation and study that the United States requires. As a land use/environmental lawyer, I deal with these regulations on a daily basis. Sad to hear that compliance with NEPA could slow down much needed alternative energy sources.


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