Solar project stumbles on endangered rat

Posted by Christine, September 13, 2010

When biologists began surveying more than 4,000 acres on the eastern end of the California Valley earmarked for a large solar project, they knew the area was home to kangaroo rats. Signs of the rodents’ large burrows — biologists call them precincts — were visible everywhere.

However, it wasn’t known whether the kangaroo rats were the endangered giant species or the more common Heermann’s variety. Biologists eventually determined they are giant kangaroo rats and that they are scattered throughout the center of the area proposed for the 250-megawatt photovoltaic power plant.

That piece of information sent project proponents SunPower and county planners scrambling back to the drawing board. They had to rearrange the tens of thousands of photovoltaic panels to avoid the kangaroo rat’s habitat.

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