Another mega-solar project near Independence

Northland would construct its solar project east of Independence.

Northland would construct its solar project east of Independence.

Within a few miles of the location that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has chosen for a major solar project, another company has plans for an equally large solar array. The Inyo Planning Department is waiting for a go-ahead.

Planning Director Josh Hart said that the Northland Power project is in a holding pattern and planners are waiting for the company to tell them to go ahead with an Environmental Impact Report. The Planning Department did issue a Notice of Preparation for an EIR. That notice says that the project site includes 1,280 acres five miles east of Independence and would operate a photovoltaic power plant generating about 200 megawatts of power.

The notice also says that construction is anticipated to begin in 2014 with operations to start later that year. The Initial Study conducted by the Planning Department shows the potential for significant adverse impacts that would require mitigation.

Asked if this project, not far from DWP’s proposed site south and east of Independence, would create a cumulative impact concern, Planning Director Hart said his staff would have to look at that and analyze it. He said it is a “relevant issue.”

Earlier documents say the project could involve up to 175 construction workers at the peak of construction. Water would be provided by existing on-site wells. Northland Power would interconnect with DWP’s transmission grid. The project also includes an operations and maintenance building with parking for ten or fifteen vehicles.



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58 Responses to Another mega-solar project near Independence

  1. dean September 20, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    Great news. This should create a few well-paying and sustainable jobs for the area even after construction is completed.

  2. Mongo The Idiot September 20, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    I am very un-happy about this. These people who are not even from here are destroying the Eastern Sierra. GO SOMEWHERE ELSE THAT IS NOT ON A SCENIC BYWAY!!!
    “The Initial Study conducted by the Planning Department shows the potential for significant adverse impacts that would require mitigation.”

  3. Mark September 20, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    I’ll I can say is yuck and hell no.

    it kinda serves all the greenies right though.. They push this crap through never thinking it would end up in the Owen’s Valley.

    • Mongo The Idiot September 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      I had no idea green energy would be so huge and ugly. Sort of like “solar ranch”, the deceptive name “green energy” conjures images of trees, clean blue skies, and happy people enjoying obscured views.
      Mongo is continually surprised by the virtually endless layers of stupidity that plague him.
      Recently, an LA suburb passed a plastic bag ban at grocery stores to reduce waste at landfills. Clearly, even the LA majority are environmentally conscious about stuff they don’t see.
      Once again the people buy deceptive language and get railroaded into a bill of goods with an outcome they never dreamed of.
      Government subsidized solar companies are going to destroy this place.

      • Reality Check September 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

        Mongo, it’s either a solar plant here or a coal or natural gas plant in someone elses backyard. America’s need for electrical energy continues to increase.

        Your choice.

        • Mongo The Idiot September 22, 2013 at 8:22 am #

          My choice Realty Check?
          Two wrongs don’t make a right.
          Also, closed ended questions can be deceptive; we don’t have to choose either, both, or neither.
          Don’t put it in anyone’s backyard or on the Sierra Scenic Byway; move it over one valley where very few people go. This way it doesn’t impact the OV residents or 2.8 million people who drive 395 annually.

  4. For The Record September 20, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Please submit your official, for the record comments and concerns about the proposed solar projects to:

    • Trouble September 20, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

      I think DWP already screwed our valley enough and hope some one we can trust gets this project going.

      • Pedro September 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

        DWP may be bully of the block, but you really want another gang? Remember they are tied to DWP and not you. Might be easier for handful of locals to get jumped in and work with them, but likely they pay half as much as DWP.

        I lived in a neighborhood overrun with a gang. Complete craphole, but they kept all the other punks off the block.

    • Mongo The Idiot September 22, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      Who thumbs downs contact info for official comments?
      Is it the two people at DWP who have to tabulate the responses and make them available to the public?

  5. Trouble September 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Maybe they can hire the court house workers.

  6. Eastside Dweller September 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    No one is really addressing the need for more transmission and tie lines that will result from more power plants in the valley. POINT OF USE eliminates much of the need for new lines.

    • Desert Tortoise September 20, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

      The article states the proposed PV array will transmit it’s output through DWP transmission lines already at the site.

      • Eastside Dweller September 20, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

        It says it will interconnect with DWP transmision grid. Those lines are on that side of the valley so the connection may be short but will be there. At some point lines reach capacity and have to be upgraded with larger wire or a new line will be put in. Point of use generation reduces transmission lines. There are some new advancements with reactors that may greatly improve grid capacity.

  7. Eastside Dweller September 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    M and MTI, Y’all are right that we push this technology legislation through without thinking it out. Even though I push small point of use power plants, I must admit that this is extremely difficult for a utility to manage if they are connected to the grid.
    Electricity is difficult and expensive to store, so at any given time the amount used must equal the amount generated. This is usually done by storing water, oil, or other fuel. Then one uses what is needed at that time to run generators to match demand. Sort of like your car, when you need more energy to go up a hill you step on the pedal and burn more gas.

    You can’t control the sun and wind that way, a cloud goes over and you’re in the dark, the sun sets and you’re done generating for the day. So you still have to have other generators to balance it out. (oil, air etc.)

    • Eastside Dweller September 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

      PS. Hot the submit by mistake above before editing. Too long winded for here anyway.

      1. Use solar primarily for heating at point of use. Passive solar homes. Solar hot water heaters, etc. Direct transfer of thermal energy that is easier to store. Saves petroleum and other fuels for electrical generation and other uses.

      2. Use wind as directly as possible also. Passive house cooling, pumping water, etc.

      3. Balance wind and solar electrical generation with pumped hydro and other clean ways to store energy.

      This all will require new ways of thinking and technology to make work on big scale. Expand our brains.

      Utilities faced with mandates to reach certain percentages of “green” on a timeline will tend to build large scale plants. That is what they do well and what works best with the grid at this time.

    • Ken Warner September 20, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

      Storage of electricity is a very interesting subject. That’s being studied and worked on by a lot of different people from the electric car people to large scale applications like balancing the grid.

      Some of the more interesting ideas is to compress air in large underground caverns or pumping water uphill to create potential energy and then reconvert that potential energy to electricity as needed.

      Other approaches use ultra-capacitors. Those can be charged with a large amount of electricity and can be discharged easily and rapidly. Other ways include large banks of lead-acid batteries and storing heat in molten salt which can be used to run a generator as needed.

      Storing electricity is a very immature technology but a lot of smart people are working on the problem. Just because it’s difficult and expensive to do so now doesn’t mean it always will be.

      • Shine September 20, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

        Pumping water uphill (pumped hydro) is existing and proven. I believe compressed air is coming about rapidly.
        Ultra capacitors are maybe getting closer for vehicle use but not grid. Lead acid batteries are expensive, bulky, and create a lot of hazardous waste. Don’t know much about molten salts. Flywheels and gyroscopes are possibilities also.

        For the moment it is mainly hydro and gas jet turbine style generation that can give quick adjustment needed to balance solar and wind fluctuation.

        So not really storing electricity, but energy that can be converted to electricity.

        • Ken Warner September 21, 2013 at 10:06 am #

          Right. It’s energy storage for the most part unless batteries or capacitors are used. Impossible to say what technology will prevail 20-30 years from now. Probably something we’ve never heard of involving solid state battery/capacitors. Or dilithium crystals….

        • Reality Check September 21, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

          Using electricity to pump water uphill and store it so it can later be run downhill to produce electricity is at best, 30% efficient.

          It’s all about ROEI (Return On Energy Invested). It takes about 3 years for a solar panel to make enough energy equal to that energy that was used to make the solar panel. They last 25 years so that is a good ROEI.

          When the oil age started, it took one barrel of oil to recover 100 barrels. It now takes one barrel to recover 10 barrels of oil. When it gets to one to one its game over.

          OBTW, it takes 7 to 10 calories of fossil fuel to get one calorie of food to yout table. The average distance food travels is 1,500 miles!

          • Eastside Dweller September 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

            Pumped hydro is closer to 70-80% efficient.
            Not a matter of one over the other. You need both stored energy (oil, water etc.) and solar if you want constant power. Solar panels don’t work at night or when a cloud goes over. So if you want to watch Miley’s live broadcast from Lone Pine uninterrupted you need both.

            If you can’t store excess energy from solar when demand is low you lose it and lower ROEI.

          • Reality Check September 22, 2013 at 8:50 am #

            Eastside, you are correct on tour 80% figure about pumping water uphill. I was thinking in terms of using solar to make hydrogen from water and putting the hydrogen in a fuel cell to make electricity.

            Lead acid batteries are about 80% efficient since they store electricity chemically. Pumping water uphill and using hyrdo at night is a lot simpler.

            Good call.

      • Tourbillon September 21, 2013 at 8:25 am #

        Agree that energy storage will improve, probably enough to resolve the variability problem with wind and solar.

        The principal obstacle will remain the giant footprints that are required for solar and wind farms, which spawn widespread aesthetic revulsion as comments on here reflect. Wind and solar will improve but never enough: a disgustingly enormous footprint shrunk by technology to a very large ugly footprint is insufficient to overcome the nimby objections.

        If solar and wind ever are to contribute meaningfully to our energy needs, it cannot be through large farms. It will have to be distributed, i.e., every or at least most energy consuming structures will have to have their own (small) solar/wind generator coupled with realistic energy storage technology.

        • Eastside Dweller September 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

          T, I agree, but if those small plants are to be connected to the grid, the utilities will need to have energy storage also. As well as ways to monitor and manage the small plants.
          I prefer stand alone structures and smaller grids, but the country is moving to bigger, more interconnected grids.

  8. DESCO September 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    Let’s turn the entire valley floor into one gigantic solar array. People from all over the world will come and squint into the reflected solar glare to marvel at the ingenuity and genius of the green at any price movement. Oh, wait a minute, people already come from all over the world to gaze upon the vast and open spaces unseen in their own countries since pre-industrial revolution times.
    I have always thought that “activists” were a bunch of jerk wad losers. If that what it takes to stop this, WHERE DO I SIGN?
    If I can get the sunglass concession, ignore the above. Ha Ha.

    • I'm in September 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

      DESCO parabolic power generation and tanning beds. LLC.

  9. bobbyjoe September 20, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    What’s next for the Eastern Sierras…Skyscrapers???

    • Reality Check September 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

      bobbyjoe, actually it will be Miley Cyrus at the Lone Pine Film Festival!

      • Eastside Dweller September 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

        RC, your statement is true in the current reality. We could change that reality, and I think the folks posting here have some of the answers.

      • Mongo The Idiot September 22, 2013 at 10:50 am #

        I like Cyrus; can we also have…
        Gordon Lightfoot (Canadian)
        Bob Dylan
        before they are gone too?

  10. Philip Anaya September 20, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    The List of all the pending renewable energy projects that will use the Inyo -Rinaldi Transmission Line ( aka ; Owen’s Gorge-Rinaldi, includes the newly approved Barren Ridge-Rinaldi transmission section of the Owens-Rinaldi Transmission corridor) is at Click on Generation Interconnection on the bottom left and then click on Generation Interconnection Queue. Look at the 17 projects that have filed ,paid fees and are in process to tie into the Transmission Line and you will see 3,764 Mega Watts of development for a yet to be completed 3000 mega watts of capacity. They are upgrading the 450 mega watt from California City south to 3000 mega watts accordintg to DWP news release that i’ve seen. The Interconnection Facility names on the list are the Barren Ridge projects, the Owens Gorge -Rinaldi line and the Beacon Projects all part of the Inyo- Rinaldi Transmission Line. There is supposed to be a 200 mega watt priority spot for the DWP Solar ranch, the Manzanar Reward Road Project, but projects down south are also in the Queue. The solar ranch is Q09, Northland is Q20 . The required scoping of the DWP Mazanar Solar Project was for the two other potential sites and was done in 2010. The DWP is actually holding their queue spot for projects no longer being proposed ! There’s got to be a whole lot of money and power involved and the Northland Project threatens this adjacent to the Manzanar Solar Ranch. It also adds to the potential environmental impacts for the Owens Valley.
    Neither of these projects is necessary for DWP to fill the transmission Line with the required renewable energy as they are claiming in the Draft EIR. The Owens Valley can remain as it is, as it was, without now 4 square miles of PV panels. The future of the Owens Valley needs to be forever and Industrial development such as this should be allowed only in areas that are zoned for this type of activity.
    Our Inyo County Government should have the opportunity and equal right to make the determination of what goes where in our County and that should hopefully reflect the will of the people who elect our leaders, who appoint our Planning Director who adminsters our laws and planning regulations.
    It is time to assert that right of self determination in the Courts and I call upon the Inyo Board of Supervisors to be responsive to this demand. The Northland Project is subject to a General Plan Amendment but the DWP project is not . How can this be? How can the County of Inyo tolerate such disregard and disrespect to our Laws and Planning Regulations. It is time for a change and that time is now, either that or continue this dysfunctional dynamic of manipulation, lies and being the objects of tyranny by the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

    • Ken Warner September 21, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      Philip Anaya: excellent report. And if his report doesn’t illuminate the need for a substantial education initiative in renewable energy application, nothing will.

      Inyo — and Mono — Counties have a grand opportunity to build an educated and experienced pool of available, skilled technicians. I hope that people can get over the idea that tourism has to be the primary industry of the Owens Valley and the rest of the East Side.

      Although I’m sure all the skilled labor that comes to the East Side to work will eat lots of cheese burgers so there will always be work for our existing work force.

  11. andy September 21, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    Wake up people, the Owens Valley is rapidly become and indrustial park for the city of Los Angeles, it is olny going to get more complicated in the future.

  12. Mongo The Idiot September 21, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    Fact is, LADWP lawyers are smarter than anyone in the valley including the board of supervisors. Once the natural features are completely trashed by water removal and solar power arrays, no one will give a crap about the valley. They have won, stop fighting and use your time wisely.
    It’s already happened to me; I haven’t moved into my house and am already leaving. We can’t unify and make a legislative stand so the valley is doomed. The only thing that can save the land now is a catastrophe like the 1872 earthquake or flood of 1869. What gets me is that I can’t work on my SFR in Big Bear because of the Stickleback fish and Birdfooted Checkerbloom yet a corporation can come into a pristine valley area and completely obliterate the landscape. Government is not about representation of the people, it is a business whose interest is its own protection and expansion; generate fear, print money, use it to pay slaves, repeat.
    Mongo stupid, but not stupid enough to fight City Hall.
    From here on out I’m going to practice guitar instead of fighting an un-winable fight.

    • Eastside Dweller September 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

      MTI, Don’t underestimate the power of a guitar. May Woody Guthrie smile on you! And we all could use some music however this turns out.

  13. Mongo The Idiot September 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    I’m an idiot, I’ll be back.

    environmental hazards of solar panels

    • Reality Check September 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

      Mongo, how does solar compare to the enviromental impacts of coal, natural gas, nuclear or hydro?

      Post those links and pick the one with the least environmental hazards.

      Everyone wants electricity but no one wants to deal with the reality of what it takes to produce it.

      • Mark September 22, 2013 at 7:14 am #

        And if you want to have light at night when the wind isn’t blowing your only left with using coal, natural gas, nuclear, hyrdo or a candle.

        The war on coal is crashing the economy in West Virgina. Shouldn’t we find something else for these miners to make a living at before we put and end to coal mining?

        • Ken Warner September 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

          Maybe all those coal miners could learn how to install and maintain a solar photovoltaic; a solar thermal; a wind generation farm; a geothermal site; a waste to energy site; a hydrogen from waste water site; or maybe they could get an education and learn how to be nurses and medical professionals or, or, or.

          They are only limited by their own imagination. The World needs educated people — not coal miners.

      • Mongo The Idiot September 22, 2013 at 8:35 am #

        Reality Check, The valley is special. Spend some time in Independence, talk to the people who live there, watch the mountains change with the light. Take a walk and observe the nature unique to the area. The area has a special evolution because of its placement between two big mountain ranges that historically deposited lots of water. The isolation provided by the 14,000′ Sierra to the west and foreboding desert to the east has thus far somewhat protected it from development.
        Two wrongs don’t make a right.
        Don’t put it in anyone’s backyard or on the Sierra Scenic Byway; move it over one valley where very few people go. This way it doesn’t impact the OV residents or 2.8 million people who drive 395 annually. This way you can still have the benefit without the high impact.

        • Reality Check September 22, 2013 at 11:53 am #

          Mongo, think about these “minor” details:

          The transmission lines are here

          DWP already owns the property

          That makes it a financially sound project

          Also consider this; Mongo=NIMBY

          • Mongo The Idiot September 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

            Realty Check
            You’re darn tootin’ I don’t want this in my back yard. As far as I am concerned this benefits LA so it should be in LA. The necessary resource, sunlight, is available there; therefore LA should be willing to carry the burden of environmental issues.
            I am one little NIMBY in the desert, you on the other hand are speaking for the approximately 22,000,000 NIMBY’s in So. Cal who don’t want this EYE-SORE in their back yard.
            Don’t you guys have any better ideas like covering parts of the aqueduct with solar panels to protect it and reduce evaporation?
            Our great grandchildren are going to need a $100 ticket to sit on a postage stamp sized piece of nature that mankind hasn’t trashed.
            So there you have it…
            I will await your response containing objective cost benefit analysis as to the how and why of solar panel placement on a scenic byway on or near an elk preserve and within view of National Forest and Park land.
            I am willing to discuss this with you.
            Mongo Theidiot’

          • Philip Anaya September 22, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

            Hey RC, Just a few more details but I think these are major

            This particular project is an additional project to the southern adjacent DWP Manzanar Solar Ranch. It is called the Northland Independence LLC Project
            The DWP does not own this property nor does the Project developer yet.
            DWP owns the Transmission Line but there are complications to “Interconnection” that you can discover if you read the info at the website that has been posted.
            Unlike the DWP Manzanar Solar Project ,this project requires a amendment to the General Plan of Inyo County and must be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
            Added to this and a whole lot more, now there are two adjacent or nearly adjacent projects proposed , totaling 4 square miles of a visable industrial development on land that is designated OS 40 in the Inyo General Plan
            This project is not in my back yard . I know about my backyard . I have to water and mow it every now and then and I can’t see either of these project site from my back yard . These projects are being proposed in an area that has been forever open and free of industrial development and these natural spaces should be natural forever. They are designated as open space in the County’s General Plan.
            If by some chance somewhere in the millenea of the life of the Earth there was a need to fill these spaces with vital PV panels, only then we should consider that option . As it is now there is no necessity as there are other existing projects that overflow even the capacity of the soon to be upgraded Inyo-Rinaldi Transmission Line.
            Why can’t we continue to have some places on this earth where future generations can see the natural forces and depostion of alluvial soils . Why can’t we have places left on the earth where the alluvial fans coalesce together are able to transtion into bajadas and into playas, a process of rock ,sand and soil being carried by our limited rainfall for thousands and thousands of years. These landforms in the Owens Valley have been in process for millions of years and all of a sudden it’s OK it’s time to change that viewscape
            These are places where the viewshed is more valuable than any of our footprints let alone concentrated 4 square miles of PV panels
            The Owens Valley is one of those places . I hope you can check yourself and the facts about these projects and reconsider your ideas about these projects.

        • Mark September 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

          Owen’s Valley deepest valley in U.S. not the place for solar

          How about anywhere in Northern L.A. County?

          It must be the land that DWP already owns..

          this sucks

          • Mongo The Idiot September 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

            Land of the 20 mile shadow Mark. I thought all along this was a tactical move to divert attention from water issues.

  14. Ken Warner September 22, 2013 at 3:18 am #

    Silly rabbit, you can see solar installations from a distance and OMG there’s reflections and the 2 square mile foot print is half as large as the whole town of Mammoth Lakes which is 4 square miles of beauty, tranquility and lovely gardens that people come from all over the world to experience. And OMG the panels are blue and I’m reeling with dread that those blue panels will clash with my lovely blue eyes.

    I’m going to re-read Rowling carefully — I’m sure there is a magic spell that can cause electricity to flow out of my outlets on demand without being connected to all those ugly wires.

    Let’s see — lumanate patronus — no that’s not it. Home again, home again jiggity jig — no. Make it so — no. Glow or die — no. I know it’s in there, let me take another look — no. Benefit the community — no.

    I’ll get it, I’ll just have to wish harder.

  15. Mongo The Idiot September 22, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    Killer Watt Warner
    Here is the view from just North of the site, It reloads every 5 minutes so look at it frequently to see the subtle changes in the light.
    Whats wrong with moving the panels to a less visible spot like Saline Valley or beyond Chalfant?”

    • Eastside Dweller September 22, 2013 at 10:26 am #

      Because Saline is where we can go to get away from Owens Valley! Saline is even more pristine.

      No transmission lines in Saline, and the cost would be astronomical for the return. How about covering the parking lot at Dodger Stadium first?

      • Mongo The Idiot September 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

        I’m all for covering Dodger stadium with this. Why the need to put this in the Owens?
        Is the install cheaper? Is the UV stronger? Is the Board of Supervisors easier? Is the housing for the Canadian workers less? Is the long term maintenance unimpeded by baseball and concerts less of an issue? Is the liability insurance less? Does it alter the beautiful LA skyline? Does it effect less people ecologically? Could the blinding glare be too much for some at the top of an ivory tower? Will less people complain?
        Is it all of the above?

        • Eastside Dweller September 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

          Why? Sale or lease income for landowner. Tax credits. Carbon offset credits. Guaranteed sale of power. Close to power lines. Cheaper install, less maintenance. A lot of things already mentioned.

        • Desert Tortoise September 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

          Owning the land and having existing power lines are no small potatos. And, yes, the UVs are brighter in the Owens Valley. Do you know what the “June gloom” is? From May through July the LA basin is covered by late night to early ,sometimes mid morning fog and low clouds. The sun doesn’t break out until ten, sometimes not at all, the consequence of cold Pacific Ocean water interacting with hot air from the land. The deserts have more sunshine more days of the year than the LA basin.

  16. Mongo The Idiot September 22, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    I like solar and own some panels myself. I just don’t want any of the good to be negated by environmental impact, visual or otherwise.

  17. Mongo The Idiot September 22, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    Is Northland Power a Canadian company?
    How many of the workers will come from Canada?

    • Benett Kessler September 22, 2013 at 10:04 am #

      It’s operations, according to its website, are in Canada.

  18. Ned Battle February 11, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    The Owens Valley will soon become a giant maintenance yard for the LA DWP forcing the last non-DWP residents to flee. This type of land use is unprecedented in this long land and water war with Los Angeles and it will turn on the floodgate for the city of Los Angeles to use it’s vast acreage of Owens Valley land for anything that it wants such as power generation, waste and trash disposal, sewage disposal, hazardous waste disposal, basically anything that requires land. The only way to fix this long and complicated history is for the county of Inyo to leave California and become part of Nevada.

  19. Trouble February 12, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    Ned, I kind of like the thought of living in Nevada for several reasons. Like the gun and tax laws. But I have to ask, what good would that do with DWP still owning the water rights?


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