NEW YORK First Solar and SunPower Corp reached agreements with environmental groups to help protect endangered animals around two of the largest planned solar power plants in the United States, the companies said on Tuesday.
The agreements help clear the way to build First Solar's 550-megawatt Topaz solar farm and SunPower's 250-MW California Valley Solar Ranch plants in the Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo County.
The Carrizo Plain is a recovery area for the San Joaquin kit fox and giant Kangaroo rat.
Under the agreements with the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, the companies will add 9,000 acres to 17,000 acres that are currently set to be marked as permanently protected areas around the plants.
SunPower and First Solar will also remove 30 miles of fencing to allow for greater wildlife movement, help eliminate poisons used to control rodents in the area and make significant financial contributions to acquire undeveloped areas for restoration.
(Reporting by Matt Daily; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)