Today, the current impacts of high greenhouse gas emissions due to energy production have been widely discussed in scholarly literature. In 2018, the University of Richmond (UR) announced a goal to match 100% of the campus' electricity demand with solar energy to decrease its carbon footprint. UR partnered with sPower to construct a 500-megawatt solar array in which UR will receive the 20-megawatts worth of energy from the site in Spotsylvania, Virginia. sPower’s solar project engendered various environmental concerns surrounding Fawn Lake and the endangered species found in the proximity of the project. Acknowledging the environmental concerns, the objective of this project was to examine if sPower’s solar power project is in violation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The aims of this project were to analyze the complex issue from a lens of political ecology, which strives to find answers that promote economic prosperity and environmental sustainability while considering the voices of all stakeholders and communities involved. The study consisted of constructing a series of infographics that bridge gaps between the scientific, social, and political perspectives. These short graphic explanations allow for a holistic analysis to be completed before drawing conclusions to the question. Results show that sPower’s project cannot be considered to be in violation of the Endangered Species Act, given their consultations with the United States Fish and Wildlife Services and subsequent approval for the project.
Paper prepared for the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar.
Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Kitchen
Williams, Victoria. "The Most Environmentally Beneficial Option: An Analysis on sPower’s Solar Project in relation to the Endangered Species Act." Paper for Environmental Studies Senior Seminar, University of Richmond, April 2019.