LADWP DEIR on solar ranch out for public comment

ladwpWhat impact would a million solar panel array have on the Owens Valley? The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has proposed such a plan. They call it the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Project. The Draft Environmental Impact Report is out with information about possible impacts.

DWP mailed a notice to local residents and groups to say their DEIR is available at libraries in Bishop, Big Pine, Independence and Lone Pine, plus DWP headquarters in Bishop. The DEIR is also available online at The public comment period is open and ends October 18th.

The project would go up on around 1200 acres six miles southeast of Independence and four miles east of Highway 395 opposite the Manzanar Historic Site. DWP says their project would generate 200 megawatts of power which would go into the grid from a transmission line already located near the project site. DWP went on to say that the project would produce about 440 gigawatt hours of renewable energy annually. This would power around 75,000 households, according to DWP. The project would allow LADWP to meet its State-required renewable energy goals.

According to the notice mailed to residents, the proposed project would include the solar panel arrays, supporting electrical equipment, on-site electrical collection cabling, an on-site electrical substation, a maintenance building, and improvement of part of Manzanar Reward Road plus other roadways.

DWP’s notice does say that the project “may result in significant environmental impacts to air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, hydrology and water quality.” The notice goes on to say that best management practices and mitigation measures would mean less than significant impacts. The public can comment through October 18th. Public meetings will be held at 6pm at Statham Hall in Lone Pine September 24th and the Methodist Church in Bishop September 25th.


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32 Responses to LADWP DEIR on solar ranch out for public comment

  1. Jon September 6, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    It would be much better if DWP proposed putting panels of the roofs of their customers in Los Angeles. Yes, it’s a little more work, but it brings the power generation closer to those who use it (more efficient than high-voltage power lines) and brings the CONSEQUENCES of that power generation (e.g. seeing the panels all over the place) to their customers. Our power generation incentives are all screwed up when big cities locate solar panels far from their own backyard.

    • Eastside dweller September 8, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

      Agreed. Solar is best for point of use. Every parking lot (also provides shade for cars) and rooftop in Los Angeles and Owens Valley should be covered before putting up a hideous eyesore in one of the last unmolested vistas in California. This also puts it closer to permanent construction and maintenance workers over a more gradual long term providing more stable long term jobs and not just one time boom.

  2. Eastern Sierra Local September 6, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    Excellent project! Solar power is the wave of the future and will reduce the nation’s dependance upon foreign oil and fossil fuel burning-Obama said that!
    Of course, my next question is why not place all these solar panels upon the roofs of the houses in LADWP’s service area instead of the Owens Valley?

  3. Ken Warner September 6, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Ladies and gentlemen — start your whinging…..

    • Mary September 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      In fact, Ken. Your remark is a classic whinge. Those of us who educate ourselves and speak out against environmental degradation and injustice are exercising our American rights and responsibilities. Shame on you.

      • Benett Kessler September 22, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

        Mary, hey, thanks for teaching me a new word, whinge. A word that means, no less, complaint!

      • Ken Warner September 23, 2013 at 8:46 am #

        “Those of us who educate ourselves and speak out ”

        Where have you been for the last hundred and fifty years? Now you educate yourself and speak out — for the fossil fuel industry — using the classic dodges to hide behind? Talk about late to the party.

        And Benett — where did you hear it first?

  4. The Aggressive Progressive! September 6, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Yes we need this as a country and as a society since we already know nobody is going to give up any convenience anytime soon. But when as a collective society will we consider other vital life form needs besides our own? The birds and all the other animals that have known this valley to be a resting point in migration season, all the riparian areas that have died off and hence limited the areas animals here in the valley would want to be, what about their needs? not to mention all the decisions we make based on what is best for humans is killing our PLANET!
    There’s got to be a better way rather then the one where a powerful entity is pushing for their best interest and act like it is doing us a favor, sound familiar?
    Come on Leaders of Inyo county, protect or animals, protect the land and water that we do have, and by all means don’t go down with out a fight!

  5. April Zrelak September 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Be aware that LADWP and your county supervisors are discussing an MOU that will give away all of Inyo County rights to oppose any aspect of this project. Inyo County passed a renewable energy ordinance in 2010. Los Angeles refuses to recognize its authority, or any authority Inyo may have to regulate a major development in the Owens Valley on their land. The Long-Term Water Agreement is also at risk. Every BoS has contributed to a poor track record of demanding compliance to that legal document. Rather than stand strong and defend any county jurisdiction, the Board is poised to back down to the bullying tactics of the LADWP. The buy-off is $4.5 million that doesn’t even cover the calculated increase in public services DWP’s temporary workforce will require.

    The MOU (remember the Term Sheet that the Board approved prior release of the draft EIR?) will be signed PRIOR to the close of public comments, if approved by the BoS. This will cripple opportunities to defend the environment or address severe impact from imported DWP workers who will consume every available house, apartment and temporary lodging in Independence and Lone Pine. Housing prices will rise to levels unaffordable to local residents. This happens every time a large project brings in temporary workers. This project is scheduled for 5 year duration! Long term stay (30 days) in hotel/motels is exempt from Transient Use Tax. That directly reduces income for Inyo County and discourages tourists. Tourism is Inyo’s major industry. A lot of tax payer’s money is spent on promoting tourism. Acquiescing to this project is contradictory to that end.

    A LOAN of another $2 million is not helpful to the local residents who will not be able to find affordable housing. Any new or improved accommodations purchased with this money will lose their usefulness at the project’s end and Inyo tax payers will be burdened with the debt.

    This is not merely an issue of the benefits of solar power or the mandate of renewable energy. It is about a huge burden placed on Inyo County, its citizens, cultural resources, water supply, services, character, landscape, open space access, air quality and more. All the generated power will go to Los Angeles and no taxes will be paid in this county. The current dirt road to the site will be greatly improved by LA to service LA, then turned over to Inyo County to maintain at a high-functioning level forever, and at our expense.

    If the BoS will not assert their authority to do what is right and leaves the CEQA fight via this lopsided MOU, the door will be opened to carpeting the Valley with solar farms and new transmission lines. Only destitute environmental organizations will be left to fight for the environment through the courts.

  6. Jon Klusmire September 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    I would hope people focus on the LOCAL impacts. If people say, “put solar panels on roofs in LA,” the respose from LADWP will be, “we do; we’ve paid incentives for 6,000 residential rooftop solar installations, with 3,500 pending, and have approved a program to install 100 megawatts of solar on larger buildings (malls, warehouses).” Check the DWP website. There are LOCAL impacts that deserve more time, thought and comment. Simply telling DWP to do something it can say it is alreadying doing — dispersed solar in LA — will just shift the discussion away from LOCAL impacts.

  7. Desert Tortoise September 7, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    You can see examples of what DWP is proposing alongside Hwy 14 just south of Mojave before the exit for Silver Queen Road, and west of Lancaster on Hwy 138. The solar panels are lower than the 6 foot chain link fence surrounding these sites and from three miles aware are invisible.

    • Eastside dweller September 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      Until you hike up a bit into the Inyos or Sierra. Ever fly over the area you are speaking of?

      • Ken Warner September 9, 2013 at 8:09 am #

        What? Are your eyes going to explode if you see solar panels?

        Yet you can drive by gas stations all the time without any physical damage. The fear of looking at renewable energy technology is irrational.

        • Russ Monroe September 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

          Why, Ken? your head gonna explode if you have to hear a point of view other than your own? Given your writings here, I doubt that you listen.

          I object to this valley being covered with solar panels. DWP is not the only culprit either. The BLM has already asked members of the Alabama Hills Stewardship group if we would object to the federal government allowing the Alabama Hills to be covered with photovoltaic panels, too. Why don’t we mow down all of those useless trees on the Sierra and cover the mountains with panels too…. ? Hey, Death Valley is just wasted space that could be covered too!

          I have been living quite comfortably without grid power for almost four decades. Solar power works great, without power lines to or from anywhere!

          Fear of alternative energy technology would be irrational Ken, but that has nothing to do with the issue. Thinking that DWP is trying to save us; now that IS irrational!!!!!

          • Ken Warner September 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

            In essence, I agree with you. I would like an unspoiled planet also. But I have no idea how to serve power to 7 going on 9 billion people without any visual impact on the environment. And it seems to me that visual impact is the least worrisome of all the possible environmental impacts.

          • Eastside Dweller September 10, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

            Some fear of “alternative” energy is not irrational. There is a cost for all energy. Making the best choice of energy sources is important, but wise usage is more so. You could cover the earth with solar panels and we would probably want more. Conservation and efficiency are lacking.

        • Eastside Dweller September 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

          I do not fear looking at my toilet, but did not install it in my dining room.

        • Mongo The Idiot September 11, 2013 at 9:53 am #

          False argument Ken, two wrongs do not make a right.

          • Ken Warner September 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

            Empty rejoinder. No context or substantiation. You should do more than just make an empty assertion.

        • Mary September 22, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

          Time to educate yourself, Ken – if you are capable of that. Google solar power installations and damage to habitat. And, I don’t think you read the comments – many people are far from being afraid of looking at renewable energy technology. In fact, they are support installation of solar panels on rooftops and in developed areas. Before you whip off one of your whinges in response to this, please do some research – if only to read the comments.

      • Desert Tortoise September 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

        The objection to the DWP project was it’s impact on the experience at Manzanar. You don’t visit Manzanar from an airplane or from the mountains to the west, you experience it on the ground at the site. From there those solar panels will be essentially invisible, especially if DWP puts green fabric on the fence in the same way the PV arrays alongside Hwy 138 are camoflaged from a distance.

        • Philip Anaya September 10, 2013 at 8:51 am #

          Hey DT,
          The viewscape from Manzanar parking lot is contained in a collection of photos of the proposed project in the Draft EIR Document figures (PHOTOS) 4.2-4 thru 4.2-13. Go to page 4-25 and scroll downward past 4-26, a blank page, to see the project location and views.
 is the website.
          Choose the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Project volume I. Scroll down past page 4-25 and then you’ll be able to envision and decide what looks ok to you.
          As I posted before, 395 is approximently 150 feet in elevation above the Owens River . The slope of the Valley east of the River makes anything more visable in the viewscape. A 6 foot chain link fence with green fabric might disguise the road way and a few yards of PV panels on the western edge of the project but all the rest of this industrial development will be extremely visable especially with reflected sunlight.
          I too have seen the solar development alongside 14 below Mojave. There is no comparison that anyone can make in the effects upon the view or the viewsheds of the two project locations.
          The world needs renewable energy sources today, just like we needed Mr. Peabody and his coal train in years past. The ever lasting effects of industrial development on the planet should be finally realized,considered and every opportunity should be made to maintain the natural viewsheds and the environments of the Earth’s creation. There are more suitable locations along the Inyo-Rinaldi transmission lines than the Owens Valley.
          The proceeds from the required sale of LADWP properties in the Owens Valley could easily be used to finace the purchase of a 2 square mile location in the Antelope Valley. PV development within the industrial areas of the City of Los Angeles should be the first consideration. This proposed project is not in harmony with nature, any common sense nor with many of the factors addressed in the Draft EIR despite what the DWP contends now or into the future.

          • Mongo The Idiot September 11, 2013 at 10:49 am #

            Why not use the panels to provide shaded parking at Manzanar, Paiut Palace, and the visitor center?

        • Eastside Dweller September 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

          D.T. Did not mean to come off as curt to your post. Just to point out angles of view other than the valley floor. Just my personal objection from another view.

    • Eastside dweller September 8, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

      Not three miles overhead.

  8. Mongo The Idiot September 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    I love that they call it a solar ranch. It kinda makes you picture cow pokes, horses, and a cute country house amidst all the plastic, glass, and wire.
    Move em’ out, rope em’ up,

    • Mary September 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

      I write about this and I like the term: solar factories.

    • Mark September 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

      The term “Ranch” is ment to soften the invironmental impact to ones mind.

      When as Mongo said it’s nothing but a big field of solar panels.. I just think Mongo left out the word “ugly”.

  9. Mongo The Idiot September 23, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Why not call them what they are?
    “Large Fields of Solar Panels”
    Many which are placed in historically undeveloped areas.

  10. Dan November 12, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    We should be embracing this project. It’s time to leave the archaic tree hugging philosophies behind and start building the lesser evils to sustain our planets energy needs. Share the burden. NIMBYS! Which dam do you get power from? 395 goes so close to Manzanar. All that black asphalt. Ugh. Looks terrible. Just the cars parked next to Manzanar look terrible. Oh the humanity.

  11. Chad Montreaux December 14, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    It is actually a photovoltaic graveyard. To meet the federal requirements for % of renewable energy, LADWP is going to dump these photovoltaics in the desert of the Owens Valley because they own the property there and it is the cheapest and most energy inefficient thing they can do. All the power generated will be sent to LA. Photovoltaics are inefficient by nature. What LADWP is trying to hide is the incredible amount of loss that will accrue because of the long distance transmission AND the fact that for every 2 Degrees celsius increase in temperature, there is a 1% drop in efficiency. Bottomline- for photovoltaics to be efficient, they must work double duty: once to generate electricity and once to reduce heat load by shading buildings or vehicles. This photovoltaic graveyard is just that, a place for LADWP to thumb their collective proboscises at federal regulations and waste these renewable resources by dumping them in the desert. They should either: A) be placed on houses, buildings, or shade structures in the Owens Valley to provide energy for the Owens valley, or B) be placed on homes, buildings, and shade structures in LA to provide power for LA.

    LADWP is just evil and they do what ever they want without any accountability. They still have refused to hook the Manzanar photovoltaic array (constructed with taxpayer recovery dollars 5 years ago) to the grid. LADWP is not interested in renewable energy, only in absolute power. The spirit of Mulholland lives on.


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