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Paired Passages—Solar Farming
The largest solar farm in the world, known asTopaz, opened in late 2014. The plant, which cost$2.5 billion dollars to build, generates a whopping550 megawatts of power. To put this number into05perspective, this amount of power will be used tosupply 160,000 homes. This switch from fossil fuelsto solar power will save the environment exposureto approximately 377,000 tons of carbon dioxideemissions per year, which is the equivalent of10retiring 73,000 cars.The benefits of constructing such a large-scalesolar farm are not only environmental. Thereare also significant economic benefits. Over 400construction jobs were added to the area during15the construction phase. $192 million in incomewas pumped into the local economy as a result.Economic benefits haven't stopped since the plantopened. Local energy suppliers are now able toenjoy $52 million in economic output.20Located in San Luis Obispo County inCalifornia, the area where Topaz was built is partof California's Carrizo Plain. The plain is an areaof native grassland northwest of Los Angeles. Theland on which the plant sits was used as farmland25in the past. Because of this, no new land distur-bance was required in order to complete this largeproject. The land was no longer suitable for farmingdue to irrigation practices that stripped the soilof its nutrients. The 4,700 private acres provided30the perfect setting for a solar plant, meeting thedeveloper's standards for low-impact development,which was a priority considering the site's proxim-ity to the Carrizo Plain National Monument, aprotected area home to native species and plants.35The plant's setup includes 460 panels mountedon steel support posts. The sunlight taken in bythese panels is fed to a power conversion stations.Each panel has its own conversion station. Made upof two inverters and a transformer, the conversion40stations are needed to make the power usable. Thepower is then sent to a substation that transformsit from 35.5 kilovolts to the standard 230 kilovolts.The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)built a new switching station next to the solar farm.45It is here that the power is looped into the grid thatsupplies neighboring areas.Topaz will only remain the world's largest solarfarm for a short period of time. The plant's owner,First Solar, is currently developing an even larger50plant, also in California.
With more and more large-scale solar farmsbeing developed in the sunny southwestern UnitedStates, researchers and conservationists alike arebeginning to notice surprising environmental55effects. While solar energy is known for its positiveenvironmental impacts, officials at the National Fishand Wildlife Forensics Laboratory have come to rec-ognize one of its significant downsides: Some spe-cies of birds that live in close proximity to large solar60plants are dying off, including endangered birds.A recent federal investigation recovered233 birds that had been killed as a direct result ofsolar plants. Researchers believe that some of theaffected birds have mistaken the large, reflective65areas of the solar panels for bodies of water. Thisis a phenomenon referred to by scientists as "lakeeffect." The birds are drawn to what they assume tobe water. They home in on the area and slam intothe panels with great force. It is thought that70the insects that birds eat fall victim to "lake effect"as well, leading the birds into the panels.Researchers estimate that between 1,000 and28,000 birds are killed as a result of harvestingsolar energy. The number of birds affected by75wind farming is much greater, ranging from140,000 to 328,000. Coal-fired electricity has the larg-est negative effect on birds, killing nearly 8 milliona year. These numbers make solar farming seemlike the best option. However, conservationists80are quick to point out that the areas where solar isexpected to boom between 2015 and 2020 are hometo some of the rarest birds in the United States. Thiscould put specific bird species at risk of extinction.There exists a state mandate in California that8520 percent of all electricity sold must be renew-able by the year 2017. This has been one drivingforce behind the rapid development of huge solarfarms. The industry, which is expecting to boom asa result of this shift to renewable energy, is facing90newly filed lawsuits by conservationist groups,citing the negative impact on wildlife. Theselawsuits could prolong the approval process for theplanned solar developments across the Southwest.
1. The central idea of Passage 1 is that solar farms
2. In Passage 2, which choice best reflects the author's viewpoint?
3. Passage 1 most strongly suggests that which of the following is true?
4. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
5. Passage 2 most strongly suggests that which of the following is true?
6. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
7. What is the main difference between the purpose of Passage 1 and the purpose of Passage 2?
8. As used in line 16 of Passage 1, "pumped" most nearly means
9. As used in lines 57-58 of Passage 2, "recognize" most nearly means
10. In Passage 2, the author's use of "surprising" (line 54) implies that
11. Both passages support which generalization about solar farms?
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