Conservation: Solar Facility Policy
Marin Audubon Society’s Policy on Solar Facilities and their Location
Adopted by Board January 8, 2020
Marin Audubon Society supports siting renewable energy projects to avoid impacts on birds, other wildlife and their habitats. In particular, MAS supports rooftop solar on residential and commercial buildings as well as canopies over parking lots and similar structures already-developed space.
Solar installations can adversely impact wildlife and habitats by direct destruction and/or indirect impacts such as shading which inhibits the growth of vegetation underneath; blocking wildlife access to plant and other resources under the panels; changing the flow pattern of stormwater runoff on and within the site; and resulting in injury or death for birds mistaking the panels for water and trying to land on them. For these reasons, we oppose use of solar panels on undeveloped land and are particularly concerned about loss and degradation of current wetlands, diked historic baylands, riparian and upland habitats.
We strongly oppose concentrating solar installations such as large scale solar farms in diked baylands and/or near wetlands, especially if the facilities could impact water birds or other birds that might be attracted to solar panels because they perceive them as water bodies with reflective surfaces (i.e. Lake effect). Diked baylands are appealing sites for developers of solar facilities because they are flat. It is worth noting, in addition, that about 40% of the birds found dead, wounded or stranded at some solar projects in the desert are water birds that are unable to fly from the ground. There is little to no adequate monitoring of wildlife impacts of solar facilities in this area.
We support the use of incentives to attract people to install solar panels such as current state law that provides for rooftop solar to be approved without environmental review which is a time and financial saving.
The solar industry is rapidly advancing and many developments are on the horizon. We will review new technologies as they become available.