Showdown on industrial solar

View of possible before and after SOVSR. Westward view from Inyo Mountains.  Photo by Bill Helmer

View of possible before and after SOVSR. Westward view from Inyo Mountains. Photo by Bill Helmer

A public showdown will unfold Tuesday when the Inyo Board of Supervisors offer their comments on the Draft Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment and its solar and wind development areas. The agenda lists this item at 1:30pm and says that the Board’s input will lead to revision of the plan that will become the project description of the environmental process that follows. The showdown part will come from citizens who have so far strongly disagreed with the Planning Department’s Draft Plan.

The item has drawn standing room only crowds and relentless testimony against industrial-scale solar development in the Owens Valley. Opposition has lined up as to how and where the Planning Department has recommended the location of 14 large development areas.

Dozens of environmentally-minded people who might usually stand strongly in favor of solar development, see it as a destructive force in the open miles of the Owens Valley, with ruination of scenery and habitats. On the other hand, many do recognize the need to have some sort of plan that will point companies in the direction Inyo County wants development, if at all.

A great number of the critics say the proposed development areas will lead to industrialization of scenic views. Others have criticized the language in the Plan Amendment as weak and vulnerable to industry devastation at the very time that utilities need to meet state-mandated renewable energy goals.

The issue has galvanized citizens into organized action. Several of them have scheduled a press conference for noon on Tuesday to lay out citizen goals. A press release says residents will support a plan which “eliminates current Renewable Energy Development Areas from the plan, focusing instead on efforts which protect our county’s wild and cultural resources and tourist based economy, and develop locally controlled renewable energy located within Inyo County communities, which serve the energy needs of Inyo County.”

Mary Roper, President of the Owens Valley Committee, is quoted in the press release as saying that the Committee applauds Inyo County’s own small solar installations near the Courthouse and the Jail. Roper said, “While we support such appropriate small-scale and roof top solar energy production, we are opposed to the industrialization of untrammeled Inyo County landscapes with large solar and wind installations.” Roper calls on the Board of Supervisors to “deeply modify” the General Plan Amendment before moving ahead with the environmental process.

Targeted for specific dissent is the LADWP’s solar plan across from Manzanar. The press release says that those present will “call on the City of Los Angeles to immediately cease and desist plans for the South Owens Valley Solar Ranch, abide by the Land Management Agreement they signed in 2010, which prohibits industrial development, and stop looking to Inyo County for their resource needs, concentrating instead on local sourcing.”

Alan Bacock, Big Pine Tribe Water Coordinator, said the concerns are that the General Plan Amendment and DWP’s solar plan will meet short term goals while “leaving long term consequences for future generations to deal with.”

More on Tuesday at the Inyo Board meeting at 1:30pm.



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11 Responses to Showdown on industrial solar

  1. MajorTom March 31, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    It seems like a big problem with industrial solar is that it contributes little to the local economy, and little to local welfare through taxes. So if solar facilities paid their fair share of taxes, and suppose three large solar facilities in the valley resulted in doubling the budget for three local school districts, would solar still be a problem? Are there three locations in the valley where solar would be appropriate?

    • RAM March 31, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      Doubling the budget of three local school districts probably wouldn’t get any additional monies in the classroom. They would probably just increase their salaries.

    • Philip Anaya March 31, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

      Two great questions Major Tom. And how about an investment into Cerro Coso College creating programs and curriculum of a Major Institution with majors and post graduate programs like Outdoor Public and Private Adminstraton. How about courses, majors and fields of study that would have the Inyo as a Natural Lab . Interns could be working in the outdoor recreation fields like the National Forest, the BLM ,The DFW and the National Parks etc contributing and evolving these Institutions. DWP needs expertise inall the fields of it’s operations . Why not a 2 square mile Campus for the development of renewable energry technologies . Why is it always about exploitation with the DWP in the Inyo? If the Inyo is to provide solutions for the world , those are the investments that should be considered. Our Inyo contribution for the future should be an investment rather than exploitation and the export of the resources of these valuable empty landscapes . The REGPA should consider the best possible utilization of every square inch of our 102,227 square miles and a virtualy empty landscape is the most valuable into the future . Put the RE Solar on the roof tops , parking structures, warehouse roofs everywhere people need energy and lights burning all night long. We have the sun for the days and we do not need the lights on to see the stars, the moon and the universe at night. and we need places in the world like the vast empty Inyo Let’s invest into the Inyo and not exploit these sacred valuable lands.

      • Ken Warner April 1, 2014 at 10:59 am #

        I’ve been saying that about education for years. All I get back is, “…tourism is our lifeblood and bread and butter…”

        The three pillars of the economy of the East Side could be health care, education and renewable energy.

        Of course, most of the people here will distort and get it wrong and make up lies. I don’t even know why I post anything here.

        • Russ Monroe April 2, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

          Well Ken, I don’t know if I qualify as one of your “most people” here, but I will try once again to address your questions.
          I have repeatedly responded to your statements about renewable energy here. I posted links for you to read and provide you with weekly information on the subject. Power Systems Design posts dozens of article links every week on the topic, which ones have you read? What part of: DWP and Edison have more renewable energy in the grid than they can balance, do you have trouble understanding? DWP has repeatedly stated that they have no plans to build any more transmission lines. Why do you think they say that Ken?
          As to health care; a good idea and simple thing to say but; the specialist that are needed to fill a full service medical complex have to turn dozens to hundreds of patients a day. Where will those patients come from? I would love to see that happen as I take my daughter to UCLA Ronald Reagan constantly and it sure would be nice to have the specialist here. How do you propose to make the doctors spend the millions each to set up practice here?
          Education is one even closer to my heart Ken as I have taught high school in Lone Pine, Adult Ed for Cerro Coso, and for Inyo County Office of Education, Certificate instruction for DQ University in Bishop, as well as classes at Lo-Inyo and for the Lone Pine Indian Education Center. The need here is real, but it is very difficult to raise enough people to make even one class fly here. Just like the doctors Ken, which education organizations are going to invest hundreds of millions in setting up institutions in such a small population center?
          You can scream great ideas all day long Ken, but to make them come to fruition takes work and circumstances that are not in place here.
          Please tell me which of the above is a distortion or lie.

          • Ken Warner April 2, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

            The last post I remember from you was when you said it wasn’t your responsibility to provide me with a one click lifestyle after I asked you for a link to back up one of your claims — I forget the topic now. That was months ago. So, yes, you qualify. Why are you so angry at me for saying “education, health care and renewable energy”? I haven’t taken anything from you have I?

            BYW: ask Benett to print a previous post of mine that she didn’t print. I suggest one way to tie in skiing with meaningful lower division education using the resources of the Owens Valley. Like this:


            But as soon as I win the Power Ball Lottery, you and I can get together and I’ll fund a Medical Sciences wing on Cerro Coso. And maybe that will bring new young blood into the local medical community.

            I’m sure you have lots of rebuttals so fire away….

          • Russ Monroe April 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

            Not angry at all Ken.
            Just looking for the logic.
            Don’t see any from you.

          • Ken Warner April 2, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

            I said:

            “The three pillars of the economy of the East Side could be health care, education and renewable energy.

            Of course, most of the people here will distort and get it wrong and make up lies. I don’t even know why I post anything here.”

            Russ Monroe said:

            “Not angry at all Ken.
            Just looking for the logic.
            Don’t see any from you.”

            So Russ Monroe proves my point. Thanks Russ….

    • The Aggressive Progressive April 1, 2014 at 9:01 am #

      No the problem is anything having to do with “industrial” scale production, The industrial idea is a inherently a flawed way of producing anything in a sustainable way if we humans really intend to survive on this planet, we have global problems, but the solutions are local, we just have to live within our means, and take responsibility for what we do today…
      Ever since the industrial revolution we have been producing things on a massive scale, then put a value on that product that merges with a flawed monetary system, when in reality we are consuming and wasting finite resources and throwing them in the landfills only to perpetuate the market/monetary system (cyclical consumption), because we need that circulation of money in this out dated structure to have economic growth….
      There’s more to it MajorTom, in my minds eye.

      Global problems, but the solutions are local!

  2. Ken Warner April 2, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    How big is “Industrial Solar”? How small is a PV solar installation that is not “Industrial Solar” but would be if it was just a few square feet bigger?

    In other words, what is the largest PV solar installation that would be acceptable?

  3. Ken Warner April 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    Philip: The Owens Valley can’t be “…102,227 square miles …” That would be an area about 320 miles on a side. You must have gotten some wrong data.

    What I’ve found is 75 miles long axis and about 20 wide which is about 1400 square miles. The Manzanar Solar Ranch is 2 square miles which is about 0.14% of the valley.


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