"Imagine large-scale solar-power plants being built across the Sonoran Desert, along with power lines up to 300 feet high, to export the sun's power to the rest of the West. That's the ambition of an idea the Western Governors Association and the federal government are studying — to make Arizona a solar-energy "colony" for 11 other states, two Canadian provinces and Baja California.
The governors are also looking at the other states and how much of the West's land could be set aside to build huge plants and other facilities producing sun and wind power and other renewable energy forms — and to build power lines to carry it across the West.
Solar advocates like to say Arizona and the Southwest have enough sunshine to power all the nation, so the idea carries promise for them."
It gets better:
"A square mile of desert covered with solar panels can furnish about 100 megawatts of power, says the Western Governors Association, whose $1 million study is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy."
But, predictably, out here in the deepest, perpetually boiling-red section of TV weather-map America, all is not sunshine and cactus blossoms. Some hesitant green-leaning groups and ardent environmentalists are expressing concern over the impact 300-foot tall transmission-line tower construction and placement will have on vast swaths of Arizona's pristine Sonoran Desert and on its most sensitive and vulnerable critters, habitats and ecosystems.
It remains to be seen if these conflicting interests will find paths to progress or roadblocks and impasse. But, unlike The Lone Ranger and Tonto...the relationship between the producers of clean, renewable solar energy and the wary environmentalists who try to keep them in check not only IS supposed to be going somewhere... it really must.