Solar project’s utility complex would destroy area’s natural beauty – St George News ‘ Utah


Solar panels on well #3 at North Ridge Well Field in Dammeron Valley, Utah, August 10, 2020 | Photo by Alexa Morgan, St George News

OPINION – This is a follow-up to the letter released on November 12, 2022 regarding the proposed Red Butte solar project in the foothills of the Pine Mountains.

Archive image | Photo by lovelyday12 /iStock /Getty Images Plus, St George News

According to Ms. Hokana’s letter, the project has been submitted to the St. George office of the Bureau of Land Management for consideration and, if approved, would be built on up to 7,000 acres of public land.

The land requested by developer BrightNight for this massive 11 square mile utility complex is visible from several communities and when complete it would be visible from thousands of square miles of rural and recreational areas, creating visual corruption. The impact would be significant, not just in terms of visual impact, but in other ways as well:

1. Environmental impacts include large-scale habitat destruction, changes in local weather patterns due to soil and air warming, damage to watersheds, widespread vegetation loss and groundwater pollution.

2. Increased risk of fire from high-voltage panels, large lithium-ion battery storage, transformers, cables and component failures.

3. Loss of Recreational Use. No hunting, hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding and ATVs.

4. Long-term loss of land. This development would preclude any alternative use of the land for many decades.

The Bureau of Land Management manages 22.8 million acres of public land in Utah, about 42% of the state’s landmass. Red Butte’s proposed location violates the current BLM classification of the area as a solar farm exclusion zone, which is based on both slope (above 5%) and visual resource management standards.

As Ms. Hokana mentioned in her letter, the electricity generated by this project will be sold to grid operators for use in other states.

A view of typical landscape in the Red Butte study area, with the community of Dammeron Valley in the distance to the right, Washington County, Utah, March 16, 2022 | Photo by Ammon Teare, St George News

Utah’s natural diversity and beauty generates over $7 billion in visitor revenue annually and $1.2 billion in state tax revenue. Locating the proposed Red Butte project in a scenic area near St. George is counterintuitive and counterproductive to Utah’s visitor campaigns as well as Washington County’s successful Greater Zion tourism campaign.

Simply put, Red Butte offers nothing to Washington County residents and visitors. It threatens to destroy the area’s natural beauty, character and value, possibly forever.

Please voice your concerns and comments now.

US Senator Mike Lee
State Senator Don Ipson
US Rep. Chris Stewart
State Assemblyman Walt Brooks

Submitted by CURT SHELLEY, Dammeron Valley

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, employees or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions expressed are the responsibility of the person who submits them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are edited only slightly for technical style and formatting.