Solar energy projects reach deal with environmentalists

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWRA, SPWRB) and Topaz Solar Farms LLC, a unit of First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), signed an agreement with environmental and conservation groups regarding 800 MW of proposed capacity at two solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant projects in California.

Under the agreement, the companies will add more than 9,000 acres to the 17,000 acres to be protected under various permits. The companies also agreed to remove 30 miles of fencing from the area, eliminate the use of rodenticides and make additional financial contributions to wildlife conservation efforts.

The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Center for Biological Diversity reached the agreement involving SunPower’s planned 250 MW California Valley Solar Ranch and Topaz’s 550 MW Topaz Solar Farm.

The projects are in the Carrizo Plain, a recovery area for endangered San Joaquin kit fox and giant kangaroo rats. The agreement provides for additional conservation efforts for the remaining unprotected lands in the northern Carrizo Plain beyond those provided under existing local, state and federal permits.

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