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Desert Solar Power Plant a Risk to Air Safety, Say Pilots

Pilots flying both private and commercial aircraft near Las Vegas have filed complaints about possible unsafe conditions caused by a large solar power plant in the Mojave Desert, according to documents filed with a state agency, and Las Vegas officials are urging the plant's designer to do something about the problem. ( More...

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btweston 4
Interesting. So what do pilots do when they're flying west in the late afternoon or early evening? Just move the sun?
PhotoFinish 3
Maybe ATC should not direct planes toward that hazard at times that are known to be problematic.

Pilots know not to look at the sun, but often can't resist if the bright light is coming from the ground. whether a solar array or a laser -- resist -- don't look.

The best and easiest mitigation is to move planes flying at those problematic times a mile over in one direction or another. It's not like pilots don't have sun glare in the early morning and late afternoon every day already. The solar array changes the direction of the sun glare.

Air traffic should be directed accordingly to minimize the adverse impact of the glare.
preacher1 2
That's probably the simplest, quickest solution, but in the story, it does say that the Impact statement said that the plant owners would have to mitigate factors if it affected aircraft.
PhotoFinish 2
Required to perform a study to measure the glare m, then mitigate.

Mitigation compromises of sending coot if the study sling with a letter to FAA requesting changebin flights that would be impacted by the glare hazard.

That action would meet the letter of the law and mitigate the hazard effectively with the least amount of cost.

Anyone hoping that a few reports of glare would result in the digging up and moving of the facility and all the panels a mile or 10 are seriously delusional.
MimosaDrive 2
Baseball players looking for high fly balls have filed similar complaints about the sun.
ADXbear 2
Sounds like a FAA routing change is needed then update the airway and NAV systems so this area can be avoided.. I've seen it my self LAS to BUR.. it is massive and several Billion dollar investment... I don't think it would be cost effective to move the facility now.... LOL
Cannikin 2
Did the complaining pilots happen to work for Big Oil?
joel wiley 1
In a followup of my FOIA request for information on the mitigation plan and reporting, I received an email from the BLM office in Needles, CA in which the responder wrote:

Dear Mr. Wiley,

We only have physical copies of the Monthly Compliance Reports. The latest is on my desk, and totals three inches thick. The overall file runs about twelve feet long. You, of course, are free to view them anytime you are in the Needles area.

As a potential substitute, you might check out the California Energy Commission website at:

They have not updated it for about a year, but have posted four year's worth of compliance reports.

In the most recent 600+ page report, the word 'aircraft' appears twice.

Elsewhere in the Energy Commission's website, I found a letter from Las Vegas Department of Avaiation (see below). Apparently they have a deeper interest in the subject and can do a buch better job of following it.
joel wiley 1
Interesting squawk. The BLM did address the issue in its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
It may have been returned due to insufficient postage. The builder was supposed to create a mitigation and monitoring plan, but I didn't find it on the website. I did find the following which might be of interest if you are still buried under the recent ice storms and run out of reading material

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website for documents regarding the Ivanpah project:

The link "Public Comments Received" is a 256 page doc of which pp 30-44 is Nevada airport authority on the glare issue:

A Monitoring and Mitigation plan was required by the EIS as mitigation TRANS-3 (Transportation issue 3) but I couldn't find such document posted on the website-

In addition to the Record of Decision, there is a Record of Decision Appendices

On pages 68-69, the issue is covered under the title
Public Health and Safety (63000)
63180 -Private and Public Airfields/Airstrips
PhotoFinish 1
Thanks for taking the time to dig. I'm glad yo see there are others that like to ve properly informed.


So, basically, the project operator is responsible for conducting the monitoring and creating a plan and paying for same.

The document will state there is some glare. The mitigation the plan will suggest will be for ATC to direct planes to avoid the problematic headings at problematic times in close geographic proximity to the project.

It'll cost money to put on paper. But the solution doesn't seem too challenging to figure out. It's merely common sense. Except once on paper, that airspace will be a no go zone for all aircraft. Everyone will be vectored around, but no more glare complaints, except from the sun, the lakes, the snow, etc.
Chris B 1
This sounds as bad as people shining lasers at aircraft.
Tim Worley 1
I fly into Henderson in South Las Vegas once a month. I've seen this facility from the air, and wondered what impact it would have on aviators flying near it. It's incredibly bright, even when you're not flying into the focal point of the mirrors.

A recent article was lamenting the death of hundreds of birds who were unlucky enough to fly through it's 1000F beam of light. Here in West Texas, where I live, we've had hundreds of wind turbines 300 feet high erected all around the landscape. It's reported birds are being killed by the rotating blades there as well.

It seems with every solution to perceived problems, be it global warming or what have your, there are unintended consequences that no one even considered.
Why should we move the airways? Get rid of the darn panels, aircraft should and do outrank goofy panels.
Remove the panels, not the money generating aircraft!
Mike Mohle 3
The panels are green and therefore "better" than dirty old oil driven airplanes, and will win every time, esp with the current administration.
joel wiley 1
If they are green, then how do they reflect enough light to be a problem with aircraft.
(/end absurdity)
Regarding 'money generating', the system is generating electricity, when runs thru a meter to likewise generate money (with relatively miniscule ongoing maintenance costs).
canuck44 1
Which is why the rest of the world are abandoning the bird killing windmills and the inefficient "solar" generation. This is really just a form of laundering money from the taxpayer to the Solyindras of the country. The only money generated is by the work of the 52 percent that pay taxes to the friends of the socialist administration to support the scam while we shut down coal and inhibit natural gas.
Hear, Hear you got it man
joel wiley 1
Just as the health care industry is a money laundering machine shifting money from the people to the insurance companies. And I am not talking about Obamacare. Aside from sky-high medical bills, this is not aviation related.
PhotoFinish 1
Actually money from the private sector and gov't is being efficiently shoveled by private and gov't medical insurance into the pockets of procedure mill owners.

The more procedures, the more bucks. Patients are just along for the ride, but even then not always. Often times procedures are billed to Medicare, without patient being present for said billed procedure.

Just follow the money.
joel wiley 1
It is a system of wealth transfer to the insurance companies which minimizes such expenses as treatment of the patient and reimbursement of providers while maximizing income from fees and insurance premiums.
preacher1 2
Can we just say get some sunglasses and go on. We all know the gummint is screwing everbody; that's old news.
joel wiley 1
In this day of entitlement and lawyers, prolly not. 8-)
PhotoFinish 1
And the wealth transfer to mills...
PhotoFinish 1
Procedure mills
PhotoFinish 1
You're completely overlooking and discounting the gov't programs that have much less insurance cost layer, but have the same or higher level of total costs and expenditures.

Both gov't and private insurance (both are third party payers) are shifting much wealth from private enterprises and individual (who pay premiums) and from gov't (who pays for medical expenses for elderly and poor) to procedure mills that have grown to create the largest amount of billables and revenue generated. The large amount of Medicare fraud even skips the step where the procedure is performed, and just skip to the billing step.

The only solution is for all/ most patients to have skin in the game. As long as a third party is responsible for all or most of the payment, while the decision of which and how many procedures are necessary is in the hands of those receiving free services or receiving payment for service, it will keep getting worse.
btweston 2
Outrank? What?

How about just flying somewhere else? Planes can move, you see. That's what they're good at.
BC Hadley -1
But they're green! (sarc)
btweston 2
...Well, they are.
Brian Bishop -3
Just like wind farms that kill birds en mass, the unintended consequences of so-called "green" energy are never considered in the rush to "fix" the crisis caused by global mean "climate change"....
We spend billions of dollars and eat up vast real estate with these projects which are only, and even then barely, cost effective with massive taxpayer subsidy.
Aviation is just collateral damage. Oops.
joel wiley 2
Unintended consequences are not limited to green energy projects. Most, if not all, major projects suffer from the syndrome. When the parting writing the project proposal has a fiscal interest in its implementation, benefits tend to be buffed and shortcomings/adverse effects minimized. On this project, the EIS (links elsewhere in thread) impacts to aviation are addressed. Much of it focuses on the tower lighting meeting FAA nighttime requirements. There is a very brief treatment of 'glare' in which the developer is directed to write a 'mitigation plan' and 'monitoring plan'. Of course, those two plans are not included in the online documentation. Just out our curiosity, I filed an FOI request for copies to see how far they went before letting that 'underintended concequence' slide.
Cannikin 1
En mass? Hardly. I kill a bird a week with my car. Imagine how many are killed everywhere by cars everyday. How many birds are killed by toxic chemicals in the air or by habitat destruction from pipelines and refineries? You probably don't have figures for that, since it doesn't fit Big Oil's narrative of alternative energies being unatainable.


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