Counties to solar firms: show us some money

Inyo CAO Kevin Carunchio has made countless trips to Sacramento to defend Inyo’s position in the solar stand-off.

More big utility firms here to profit from Eastern Sierra resources without a benefit to us?  That’s how Inyo officials have described the latest proposal by BrightSource Energy to develop a $2.7 billion solar power plant in the Death Valley area.  The Los Angeles Times picked up on the story and found two other counties with similar gripes. As the Times story says, “Counties that invited the projects expected jobs and taxes not a drain on their budgets.”

Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio, pictured in the Times article, said, “We don’t think we should have to bear the cost for energy that is being exported to metropolitan areas.”  Carunchio has reported locally that the State Energy Commission has all the regulatory power over big solar projects.  He said Inyo has found that BrightSource will get tax breaks and not pay their fair share of taxes.  He has said that their contributions will not cover the high cost of public services required by their project.  In short, Inyo would lose money and gain only a handful of local jobs.  Inyo and BrightSource, however, are in negotiations.

The LA Times article says at first it looked like the solar project would give Inyo County property taxes that would boost the general fund by 17%.  The story reported that an economic consultant hired by Inyo found that property tax revenue would amount to a fraction of the customary amount because parts of the plant qualify for a solar tax exclusion.  The story also says that “Fewer than ten local workers would land permanent positions and just 5% of the construction jobs would be filled by county residents.”  Plus, as Carunchio has told Sierra Wave Media, workers are more likely to spend their money in Nevada which is closer than Inyo towns.

The Times also says that the solar project would cost Inyo $11 million to $12 million during the 30-month construction phase on a road upgrade and more.  Inyo officials have said that once the project is up and running, it would cost taxpayers about $2 million per year in more law enforcement and other services.

The Times story says there are similar stories in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.  In addition to serious money concerns, counties are concerned about visual impacts.  At the same time, Governor Brown continues to push hard for development of renewable energy.  Counties faced with solar plants say fine, but give us a fair share of the money.

, , , ,

20 Responses to Counties to solar firms: show us some money

  1. Trouble November 29, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    Until the monopoly the utility companies hold on our water and power supplies is reversed, our bills will just go up no matter how many wind mills they toss up. Do you really believe we are going to see all these polluting power plants shut down ?

  2. Big AL November 28, 2012 at 1:26 am #

    Did you know Inyo county has a moratorium on any sort of wind generation? Seems .. what boils down to, is aesthetics. People were complaining about the unsightliness of the wind generators along the Owens Valley’s view shed. Really? .. when we need to develope alternative power supplies?

    • Ken Warner November 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

      And what exactly are their complaints — given that there are no wind towers in the Owens Valley. What are they basing their complaints on other than their distorted imagination. These kind of complainers seem willing to exercise their imaginations on the supposed visual polluttion while ignoring the real pollution of the power plants and fuel sources for those power plants where they get their electricity from now that are anything but imaginary. Then they go to McDonald’s without a second thought.

      Why give those who complain about what they imagine might be something they might not want to look at any credence whatsoever?

      Any reasonable person would be happy to see wind towers anywhere given what they are getting from them — clean energy — and the environmental disasters they take their electricity from now.

  3. Sean F November 27, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Projects like this are not as simple to execute as some of you are implying. There are a matrix of laws that need to be navigated beyond just the local issues. Politicians generally do not have anywhere near the technical or legal experience needed to handle this type of project. Consultants have to be brought in. Having a politician with no experience in this area “figure it out” is like asking a 5th grader to file your income taxes. Prob not going to be done right.

    I personally think the more important issue is that we get solar project and others like geothermal up and running. Don’t get bogged down in who is going to get what sweetheart job where. Solar is good for the country and the environment and needs to be done on massive levels so we can use less oil, coal, nukes etc.

    • Ken Warner November 27, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

      Projects like these are at least partially funded by government sources. And they are good for the whole country. In the long run, these solar thermal electric plants will benefit us all.

      Nothing is free.

      • johnjcampnfish November 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

        Wind farms along the Sierra crest would benefit us all too, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. The LA Times article mentioned what I thought were some legitimate concerns from Riverside county about the costs being a bit more than they were led to believe. It’s behind a paywall so I can’t reread it to remember.
        Inyo county isn’t very rich and could suffer more than other counties if costs end up being higher than estimated and revenues are less.

        • Get Real November 28, 2012 at 10:25 am #

          Wind Farms would not survive on the Sierra Crest. Also, wind energy is not profitable above 7,000 feet.

    • Big AL November 28, 2012 at 1:34 am #

      You answered my question perfectly Sean. We do need alternative power supplies!

  4. Tim November 27, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    The proposed solar plant in located adjacent the CA -Nevada border near Pharump. Most all community services are provide from Nevada, shops, gas etc.

    What Inyo county residents would get jobs out of this? What services is the county committing to provide?

    Is this the old Charleston View project property?

    • Benett Kessler November 27, 2012 at 9:55 am #

      I don’t know about Charleston View, but Inyo would have to provide roads and law enforcement for starters.

    • Ken Warner November 27, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      The Brightsource Ivanpah site is already under contruction. If’s off I-15 near the NV border. The roads are already there.

      There’s no place to live around there except in Nevada around Henderson or Las Vegas. Probably not a lot of people from Inyo are going to be working there.

      It’s in the middle of friggin nowhere. Inyo should take the money as prescribed by existing law and stop spending money on their greed impulse. Work a deal with Nevada to provide public safety services.

      The turtles are being dealt with….

    • Ken Warner November 27, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      I didn’t know about the one near Pahrump. That would need some road improvements. Hard to see why Inyo should take the whole cost burden given most people who work there will live in NV. A little cooperation would be beneficial to everybody. .

  5. Eastern Sierra Local November 27, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    I don’t understand why big government gives taxpayer subsidies to energy companies to rape the desert by placing solar farms in undistrubed areas to then transport the electricity generated to far-flung cities. It seems to me that the better thing to do is to give urban home owners the subsidies directly (cutting out the electric companies altogether) to generate solar power right where it’s going to be used anyway. This would benefit the homeowner, keep the deserts untrammeled upon, and cut out power compaies from lucrative taxpayer subsidies.

    • Get Real November 27, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      Under you logic it is much better to get your energy from a dirty coal burning plant from another state of build more nuke plants. NIMBY right? Out of sight, out of mind.

      • Eastern Sierra Local November 28, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

        Actually, “Get Real” your logic is totally flawed…how is “getting your energy from a dirty coal burning plant from another state of build more nuke plants” related to solar panels on the homes that utilize them?

        I’m talking about getting rid of the middle man (electric companies) from the tax subisdes altogether, give the subsides directly to the homeowner to install panels on their homes and tap them back into the grid. You’re talking about NIMBYism and coal burning in other States? HUH?

        I’m talking about empowering (litterally and figuratively) the people with solar panels and the monetary incentive directly from the government. In doing this the desert isn’t destroyed and the “solar farms” are where they need to be- the city.

  6. Big AL November 27, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    Big Rick .. ask Mono county about the how much the consultant cost them, that recently came up the the glorious new parking plan in their county seat.

    • Big AL November 27, 2012 at 1:16 am #

      I have seen some good business ventures offering jobs .. get carried off by the companies proposing to bring their business to the area .. only to throw their hands up in the air over so much obstacles put in front of them by the county, and walk away. And it all seems to stem from money … costly permits, taxes and such. Permits are needed in certain instances, but when the company completes something and oh by the way there is the one more hurdle .. oh and you will have to pay this and that .. So the company is gone. The jobs are gone. The income (taxes) is gone.

      Funny, as Big Rick asks … how much did it cost the county to tell them something, that someone in the county government or the county supervisors should have been able to do … come up with such a report.

      Something else I get from this, is the give aways the federal and state level governments are giving to these companies to develop these sites, through tax breaks for bringing ….. “renewable resources” in. Yeah the county has a legitimate gripe there, but they surely knew that to begin with, what changed their minds?

      I don’t think the businesses should get permanent tax breaks, maybe defer taxes until they start making money, then start paying their share.

      I think the consultant was a tad high on the cost the county will have to put out for road improvement ans maintenance, just a lil bit. As for law enforcement, a good part of that tab is picked up with homeland security, again .. a lil bit high.

      On a side note .. if they don’t put the bicycle lane back in on Gurkin road between Sunland and Sierra Vista, they are asking for a law suit when someone on a bike gets irons out .. .. They have signs up .. there was a stripe, but some how it never was replaced. They don’t want to shell out a couple million over that.

  7. Big AL November 26, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Solar firms to counties … show us some partnership without raping us.

  8. Get Real November 26, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    This is a total shakedown by Inyo County. The Sheriff is really using “Fuzzy Math” if he thinks that he needs to hire more than ten deputies for a bunch of solar panels.

    This reminds me of how the Mafia controlled dock unions operate. “Youse gots to pay to work here”.

    I am betting that BrightSource Energy will move the project to southern Arizona where they can avoid an Inyo style shakedown to create clean energy out in the desert.

  9. Big Rick OB November 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    I wonder how much the “Economic Consultant” hired by Inyo County.cost. Don’t they have people that are ALREADY on the county payroll that could figure this out ?


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.