Solar energy has been touted by those who support its wide use as a completely “clean” way of producing electricity.

But reality gives lie to that claim.  Take the Ivanpah plant in the Mojave Desert for example. It sits on 5.6 square miles of mostly undisturbed public land that was home to desert tortoises, a species threatened with extinction, among other wildlife.  It fries birds in flight regularly.  Environmentalists concerns were ignored.

Why?  Because it was an Obama administration priority, whether it is important to anyone else or not.

Said Obama when it opened:

“With projects like this one, and others across this country, we are staking our claim to continued leadership in the new global economy. And we’re putting Americans to work producing clean, home-grown American energy that will help lower our reliance on foreign oil and protect our planet for future generations.”

Except it not only doesn’t lower our “reliance on … oil”, it is a large user of fossil fuel.  Yes, that’s right – it has a huge carbon footprint.

Data from the California Energy Commission show that the plant burned enough natural gas in 2014 – its first year of operation – to emit more than 46,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

That’s nearly twice the pollution threshold for power plants or factories in California to be required to participate in the state’s cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions.

The plant, the recipient of $1.6 billion in federal loan guarantees as well as $600 million in tax credits, uses natural gas to preheat water for steam.  It is only after the water is preheated that the solar energy is applied to finally produce the steam to turn the generators.  And on cloudy days?  Yes, all natural gas and nothing but natural gas.

And the enviros?  Well, David Lamfrom, desert project manager of the National Parks Conservation Association, is pretty sure this isn’t what they signed up for.  He points out that this isn’t a solar project but instead a hybrid project which uses both solar and fossil fuel to generate electricity.

“It feels like a bait and switch,” Lamfrom said. “This project was held up as a model of innovation. We didn’t sign up for greener energy. We signed up for green energy.”

The Obama administration lied about the project?  My goodness – the next thing you’ll tell us is if we like our health insurance we won’t be able to keep it.

Oh, wait.

~McQ