Inyo downsizes solar development plan

picketersPublic pressure on Inyo County leaders did not let up and officials did make big changes in their plans to formalize large, industrial solar development sites throughout Inyo County. The Planning Department came up with a much less intense plan. Supervisors seemed to support it. Public speakers thanked them for hearing the citizen outcry. The Board gave some direction to the Planning Staff, who will come back one more time with a revised Plan.

Before a large crowd of people made their way into the Supervisors’ boardroom, concerned citizens held a presspressconference conference on the steps of the Inyo Courthouse, with some 60 in attendance. Ben Holgate hosted the hour-long conference and introduced three speakers – Bruce Embrey of the Manzanar Committee, Mary Roper of the Owens Valley Committee and Alan Bacock of the Big Pine Tribe. They all spoke against large-scale solar and DWP’s solar plans across from Manzanar for reasons of the environment, history, and scenic beauty.

They all pushed for roof-top solar and small arrays. Mary Roper said said she was “hopeful that the Board of Supervisors hears the public outcry and deeply modifies the General Plan Amendment.” Roper later turned over petitions with nearly 1200 signatures as evidence of that outcry.

bos4_1_14The Board meeting itself drew nearly 100 people. A Sheriff’s Deputy stood by, apparently concerned by the large and passionate gathering. Planner Cathreen Richards went through the explanation of the Draft Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment and presented a much less intense version. That was new. It eliminated half of the proposed large sites and most significantly the one across from Manzanar.

Planning Director Josh Hart said Inyo finds itself in a “real quandary.” He said Inyo has some of the best solar and wind resources, the state and federal governments are pushing for renewable energy development and there will be a significant increase in demand for it. He said, “Our goal is to limit areas of development.” Officials and citizens also pointed out that if transmission lines expand, the pressure for renewable energy development here will multiply.

29 people offered more comments to the Supervisors. Many supported the new less intense plan, and many thanked the Board for hearing the concerns of the people. Many pushed for rooftop solar and smaller development. Others pointed to conflicts between solar development and environmental projects under the Long Term Water Agreement with DWP.

The Supervisors did seem to agree that they would exclude wind development in the western part of the Owens Valley. We will have more on Tuesday’s events on later broadcasts.



8 Responses to Inyo downsizes solar development plan

  1. Inyoite April 2, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    It isn’t over ’til it’s over! I think it may be way too early to congratulate ourselves and the Board for the direction that may be taken when Planning comes back with the “plan that they thought they heard that the Supervisors wanted.” That would be this map:
    However, there appears to be a dogged determination to continue on with discussion about the Owens Valley REDA as the $400,000 CEC grant that they announced that they received during the Board Meeting yesterday is for studying that REDA. And, there was a lot of talk about having LADWP “sit at the table” because they are a landowner. So, don’t put down your guard folks. The SOVSR (Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch) is still out there, as is that Owens Valley Renewable Energy Development Area that everybody that I have heard wants completely out. Good news is that the Board seemed to agree that wind was out. However, the discussion about capping the Rinaldi transmission line at 250 megawatts was muddled. So, keep your eye on the board agendas and keep vigilant!

  2. Jed E April 3, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    The problem is that DWP, as a sovereign government entity, does not have to adhere, what so ever, to Inyo County’s General Plan. If they really want windmills and solar farms on THIER land they can do so and Inyo County can’t do a damn thing about it.

    • Fibonacci April 3, 2014 at 9:16 am #

      DWP, Inyo and other parties are in a legally approved agreements to protect the lands owned by the DWP in the Owens Valley. These agreements requires SUSTAINABLE uses, which is not defined as renewable energy development.
      Moreover, LA’s own General Plan has language that protects lands in the Owens Valley. Finally, it really is unclear whether a municipality can own such a vast amount of land in a county and assert sovereignty. I think that’s really called an “occupation”. It’s time to test that in a court.

  3. Jed April 3, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Please re-read my first sentence, The City of Los Angeles does not have to abide by the County of Inyo’s General Plan. That is a fact. Nor do they have to abide by the ordinances of Inyo County. Please cite the specific verbiage, in any agreements between the county and El Lame which states they CAN NOT build a solar ranch on their own property? At any time the city can also change their general plan with regards to how they manage THEIR lands in Inyo County.

    Unfortunately these are the facts at the current time.

    • Benett Kessler April 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

      Don’t forget the factor of political will and influence. Those are the factors in play right now. We’ll see.

      • Russ Monroe April 3, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

        and under the heading of influence:
        At the planning commission hearing, the Department of Defense representative, referring to the southern Owens Valley, Argus and Panamint Valleys, said the words;
        “It’s critical to our national defense. We’ve got to be able to do what we do somewhere. It’s a quiet test environment like no other in the nation. We want to protect it, virtually at any cost.” He went on to say that that meant; no wind turbines, no solar thermal, and flat panel solar only out of their test range.
        DWP will have a tough time trumping the military.

    • sugarmagnolia April 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

      Sorry Jed, but I don’t believe you. DT has said the same thing and attempted to back up this claim with citations that he interpreted in a way that a reasonable person wouldn’t.

    • Jane April 3, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

      Actually LADWP has an MOU about the management of this land, and said use of the land would violate that agreement.


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