He has courted high level officials, politicked all over town. DWP Interim Manager David Freeman wants to build solar panels on the Owens Dry Lake and he’s on the move.
Locally, Air Pollution Control District Director Ted Schade confirmed that Freeman is “really interested” in a big solar project. Schade said Freeman reasons that the Dry Lake is a great place where LA could make power, control dust and save water all at the same time.
The several interests at the Dry Lake want to weigh in too. Those who support wildlife habitat in watered areas of the lake want a permanent habitat area. LA may be willing to see that as part of the vision if the solar plans can go forward.
Schade pointed out that when current construction at the lake is finished, LA will use 90,000 acre feet a year to keep dust down. If they can use less water, he said, they might be willing to create habitat. Schade said his office is working with DWP to use water more efficiently on the lake bed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Freeman pulled the idea of moat and row, ridges of dirt to control the dry lake dust, from the agenda of the State Lands Commission. Freeman has reportedly met with Mono Lake Committee Director Geoff McQuilkin and Karen Ingram of Eastern Sierra Land Trust. He’s working to get his solar idea off the ground and maybe other ideas.
When asked if solar panels could really control Dry Lake dust, Ted Schade said they could. Experiments are underway. DWP power people are working with Air Pollution Control staff. A special company is building a wind tunnel in which to test solar panels.