First Solar agrees to cease operations after 35 years
October 5, 2011
Under an agreement with a group of litigants battling against a Carrizo Plain proposed solar plant, Topaz Solar farm will close down after 35 years of operation, First Solar and two local activist groups announced. [Tribune]
The 550-megawatt proposed First Solar plant will be decommissioned, the area restored to its natural state, and a conservation easement is to be placed on the land as part of the lawsuit settlement.
“Combined with other off-site lands Topaz is conserving, this agreement will support the preservation of approximately 22,000 acres to be protected in perpetuity following the end of the project operations,” the company announced in a news release.
The litigants, North County Watch and Carrizo Commons, have argued that the facility would cause a loss of habitat for protected species such as the San Joaquin kit fox and the giant kangaroo rat.
As part of the agreement, First Solar is required to establish a biological working group to conduct research and monitoring during the life of the project to help minimize environmental impacts.
On Friday, the Topaz project lost $1.9 billion in federal loan guarantees because it failed to meet a Friday deadline to start construction. First Solar is currently negotiating with other lenders.