In Colin Rigley’s excellent article on the dilemma regarding the siting of much-needed renewable energy (“The great solar quagmire,” Oct. 7), the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO) was incorrectly characterized as having made an “about-face” regarding the two solar projects proposed for the Carrizo valley. Mr. Rigley correctly stated that the organization has not yet taken a formal position, and he then goes on to quote our office coordinator, Maria Kelly, regarding her own opinions.
The organization has a varied membership and equally varied opinions regarding this and other environmental issues; we respect the right of Ms. Kelly (as well as other ECOSLO employees, members, and volunteers) to express personal opinions, but they should not also be extended to ECOSLO, as Mr. Rigley has unfortunately done.
The controversy surrounding the Carrizo projects is a testimony to the complexity of the issues. While we all agree that we quickly need to develop local renewable energy resources, there is a wide continuum of cost vs. benefit when we talk about how and where, i.e., protection of endangered species and habitat; loss of valuable agricultural lands; cost and benefits to the county (who would likely not be end users); distributed solar vs. industrial installation (including financing, capacity, and timing considerations); proximity to transmission lines vs. proximity to end users; energy and human costs to manufacture and ship the panels; disposal of possibly toxic components to decommission, to name a few.
Before taking an official position, we look forward to continued analysis of all of the options on the table, as well as fresh and valuable perspectives from our community.