Proposal Will Include Voluntary Incidental Take Permits with Wildlife Agencies and Compensatory Offsite Species Mitigation
Intersect Power, developer of the Aramis Solar Generation and Storage project in unincorporated Alameda County, today confirmed plans to continue work with Alameda County, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), to create and implement a Habitat Conservation Plan to further ensure species protection. The Habitat Conservation Plan will include protections beyond what is currently required for project construction, including a voluntary incidental take permit and a conservation easementin an offsite location to compensate for the potential temporary loss of marginal habitat at the Aramis site during project construction.
“The Aramis project site was selected on its particular plot of land because of its low potential for harm to sensitive species and its high potential for local benefits,” said Marisa Mitchell, principal and head of environmental and permitting for the Aramis Renewable Energy Project. “The Aramis project site is one of a handful of locations where modifying current land management practices in support of renewable energy generation has the potential to improve the quality of habitat for a wide range of species while also directly offsetting fossil fuel generation in Alameda County, improving local air quality for residents.”
In a letter to Alameda County dated February 22, Mitchell underscores the County’s EIR is a high-quality document that complies fully with the law and includes comprehensive mitigation measures to ensure avoidance of harm to amphibians and other species. “We stand firmly behind the quality of the Aramis project’s biological survey work, which was conducted over multiple years by experts, and included protocol-level and focused surveys for amphibians and other taxa.
Although no protected species were detected during any of the project’s extensive biological surveys, and although the site represents only marginal potential upland dispersal habitat for amphibians, Intersect Power made the decision, out of an abundance of caution, to pursue voluntary incidental take permit coverage with both CDFW and USFWS. In accordance with the East Alameda County Conservation Strategy, the company proposes to permanently protect high-quality frog and salamander habitat under a conservation easementin an offsite location to compensate for the temporary loss of marginal habitat at the Aramis site during project construction.
“There is no potential breeding habitat for California red-legged frog or California tiger salamander on the Aramis project site, and the comprehensive surveys did not detect any frog or salamander individuals. San Joaquin kit foxes also are not present at the site, and haven’t been seen in Alameda County for decades,” Mitchell added.
“As conservation land managers with experience in the region, the team at Wildlands has extensive expertise working with federal, state and local natural resource agencies in identifying lands that are appropriate for wildlife conservation and those that are not. We manage mitigation banks for important resources and have developed conservation easements for dozens of utility-scale solar projects throughout California that require the acquisition of compensatory habitat due to their displacement of habitat for threatened and endangered species. We have reviewed the Aramis project, including the draft environmental impact report, and have concluded that the project site would provide marginal value for habitat conservation,” said Brian Monaghan, senior vice president, Wildlands, Inc.
“The solar development represents an opportunity to balance the need for renewable energy and avoiding sensitive areas since the project site has been extensively grazed and disked, and that the proposed development footprint appropriately avoids the areas of the site with higher habitat potential such as Cayetano Creek,” added Monaghan. “We are encouraged to see that the project site strikes a balance between protecting raptor foraging habitat during long-term operations while meeting our state’s renewable energy goals. The developer has identified an appropriate site for critically important solar and storage development, and Wildlands supports the Aramis project.”
Intersect Power and the Aramis project continue to raise the bar for solar energy development practices by incorporating on-site habitat improvement, off-site habitat protection, agrivoltaics practices, protection of viewsheds, local living-wage employment, local procurement, and recreational and educational opportunities, all while helping the Bay Area, California, and the world in combatting the climate crisis.
About IP Aramis
About Intersect Power
Founded in 2016, Intersect Power is a clean infrastructure company bringing efficient, innovative, and scalable low-carbon solutions to its customers in energy and commodity markets. Our expertise includes all phases of development, design, engineering, finance and operations. Intersect Power has a pipeline of 3.2GWDC of late-stage solar and storage projects that will be in operation by 2023 and an emerging pipeline of other clean infrastructure assets. The company has also developed and sold more than 1.7 GWDC of contracted solar projects across California and Texas, which are owned and operated by third party investors. For more information, visit www.intersectpower.com.