Why Environmentalists Are Worried About Solar in Southern Colorado

August 31 2009, 1:27 PM

Southern Colorado is at the heart of a conflict that pits environmentalists against an unlikely enemy---renewable energy. Residents of Pueblo and the San Luis Valley fear that a $180 million project to run electrical transmission lines from Pueblo could have ill effects on mountain and prairie habitats in between, reports The Pueblo Chieftain. The line, a joint project of Xcel Energy and Tri-State Generation, comes in response to government mandates that require power companies to use more renewable energy. But some residents, including the owner of the massive Trinchera Ranch, are wary that not enough study is going into the potential environmental impact that the lines could cause. The Nature Conservancy now claims that renewable energy is the latest industry to create something its advocates generally loathe---sprawl---writes The New York Times. The conservancy uses the term "energy sprawl" to bring attention to habitat destruction. But that doesn't distract from some good news on the innovation front, such as Xcel's pilot power plant on the Western Slope, which aims to harness the sun's heat at an old-fashioned, coal-fired power plant in order to produce electricity (via the Denver Business Journal).