Letter to the editor: contention over renewables

 solarpanelsContention, Confrontation and Derision : The Inyo County Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA)
On March 26, 2013, our Inyo County Board  of Supervisors approved the Desert Renewable Conservation Plan (DRECP) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with California Energy Commission (CEC).  This is the beginning of the current contentious, confrontational  and derisive atmosphere that now exists between environmentally minded Groups/Individuals and Inyo County Planning over the REGPA.  There is an explanation of how all of this has occurred the key word being “Conservation.”
   In another MOU dated November 17, 2008, between the CEC ,Caifornia Fish and Wildlife, BLM, and the US Fish and Wildlife, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) was born.  ” The DRECP will Guide Solar and other RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standards, 33% Renewable’s by such and such a date)  energy project siting in the DRECP Planning Area and ensure conservation of California’s Natural Resources in the Planning Area” .
   In the MOU dated March 26,2013 Inyo County agreed to participate in the DRECP process.
   The MOU goals (page 3) provide for the  “Conservation”element.   Nothing in this Goals A-K section of the MOU provides for an encouragement of Industrial Scale RE Solar development in the County.  Every Goal has to do with conserving the biotic communities in the DRECP Planning Areas. The DRECP is a “conservation” preservation process to “ensure conservation of California’s Natural Resources”.   So where did the wheels fall off the wagon? Where did the bus stray from the road towards the cliff? Is “conservation”  not the key word in the DRECP goals and purpose?
   Page 4 of the MOU contains Inyo County’s goals and policy’s for the DRECP. Where was the public process establishing these tidbits?   I suggest a reading of this section of the MOU . It begins with  “Inyo County historically has provided renewable energy production facilities for the benefit of California”  What, other than some historic hydro electric and recent geo-thermal generation? How does that assumption overwhelm the stated and ignored Goals of the MOU ?
What a lead into Goals A-D .  All of a sudden, Inyo County outside of Goals of this DRECP  MOU  is using the word  “Encourage.”      Goal a. “Encourage the sound Development of any and all energy resources____ “.   Goal b.  “Encourage the use off peer review science in the assessment of Impacts____ “.   Goal c.  “Encourage the development of adequate utility corridors_____”.  Goal d.  “Encourage maintaining energy opportunities___________ with a goal to ensuring that the citizens of the County benefit  from renewable  energy development in the County”.      Goal e.   deals  with cooperative land disposition and acquisition, exchanges and adjustments that benefit the citizens of the County.   Goal f. is about access, recreation and muti-use management .
  So Inyo County is now a participant in the DRECP process. There is a Grant from the CEC to have a process to have a General Plan Amendment. The Goals of Conservation are being dragged through the  muck of the Encouragement of Industrial Scale development . The Planning Department is forging ahead , they have a deadline and a rush to judgment. The idea of benefits to the Citizens of Inyo County for the generation of renewable energy for local consumption is not adequately addressed in the REGPA. There is little benefit for Inyo County that is viable in terms of green house gases when the local environment is so severely impacted that prior mitigation Projects Boundaries like the LORP and the Long Term Water Agreement are not considered and respected by Planning Department Heads and Staff . The contention of the Environmental groups and individuals is predictable and correct .
 There is little foresight, little logic, little compliance with the Goals and the existence of the DRECP and the MOU being exercised in this current Planning Process.  The peer review science provided by these “extreme vocal minority sage, rabbit brush lovers is being ignored , rejected  and marginalized for the idea of development at any cost.  Children know the song “the wheels of the Bus go round and round.”  Inyo County needs to check their lug nuts and get that bus back on the path  “all through the Town”.  I hope our Board of Supervisors are hearing our words. I hope that they hear the facts presented, can tolerate the emotional and logical outrage of their constituents and that they send Mr. Hart and his “alternatives”  back to a adequate public process and Planning drawing board even before the March 18 Board Meeting . I also suggest a larger venue for this March 18th Board Meeting.
                                                                                         Philip Anaya

11 Responses to Letter to the editor: contention over renewables

  1. Philip Anaya March 9, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    DT, I should have been reading these documents before writing a word. A friend sent me this link http://www.inyoplanning.org/RenewableProjects-Other.htm

    At the bottom of the DRECP heading , dated Oct. ,2009 there is a link to a letter from the previous Inyo County Board of Supervisors to the CEC

    This letter and all the other links under the DRECP heading document the history of the current REGPA proposal that Inyo County is now engaged. This initative of Inyo County to join the DRECP was made by the previous Board, only Ms. Arcularius still being a current Board Member. Also, Josh Hart was not the Planning Director at that time . I am guessing that the other members of the current Board do not have the advantage of the direct knowledge of Ms. Arcularius with this subject.
    DT, It makes little sense to have a discussion based on inaccurate information so I have some reading rather than writing to do. Somewhere the concept and intention of the DRECP of “Conservation” and protection of the Environment has been tangled, some think mangled, with a promotion, the “encouragement” of Industrial Scale Development. It’s vital at this point of time to understand and educate ourselves and the current Board of Supervisors. This REGPA proposal could forever change Inyo County if allowed to progress in it’s current form and the focus of the public constituant contribution to the discussion must contain reason, fact and persistance to effect the decision of what Inyo County will become. There are a lot of pages to read ,understand, comprehend and address. The Board not only will need a larger venue on March 18, they also need to give themselves and their public additonal time to throughly understand what our future holds. For the seekers of environmental protection and justice this process is a critical mass opportunity to shape and preserve the deepest valleys, gateways to National Parks, Historic Monuments and Sites . Our Board of Supes can expect nothing less than a vocal and demonstrative response from their constituants when it comes to such matters as these. Let’s give them reason and facts to guide that decision.

    • Desert Tortoise March 9, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

      A solar project in the Indian Wells Valley that was going to be developed by Solar Millenium was stopped due to the choice of undisturbed desert tortoise and Mojave ground squirrel habitat. It is not impossible to stop a solar project, but the reasons have to be very compelling and really the only way to stop one is for it to fail out of the EIR process for some reason. If the site is disturbed land already, it is very unlikely there will be found a good reason not to build. If it is Federal land, the county has essentially no leverage at all.

  2. Desert Tortoise March 8, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    The following is taken verbatim from the 1979 California Solar Solar Rights Act.

    “Section 65850.5 (c) of the act also prohibits local governments from denying a use
    permit for a solar energy system “. . . unless it makes written findings based upon substantial evidence in the record that the proposed installation would have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety, and there is no feasible method to satisfactorily mitigate or avoid the specific, adverse impact. The findings shall include the basis for the rejection of potential feasible alternatives of preventing the adverse impact.”

    The county has almost no means to obstruct solar power development, and this was a very deliberate and I think wise, decision by the state legislature.

    • Desert Tortoise March 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

      Ah yes, thumbs down for quoting the relevant law. The Owens Valley illiterati at their finest.

      • Inyoite March 9, 2014 at 9:37 am #

        Desert Tortoise – the reason people gave you a thumbs down is because you conveniently took paragraph (c) of that Government Code Section out of context.

        You obviously read the whole Section in order to extract just that specific paragraph, so you know that it was written to encourage small solar installations on people’s houses and businesses. That is exactly what all the uproar is about! Encourage those small solar installations in Inyo and do not allow big industrial solar installations to ruin our County!

        For those of you who want to read the entire section, here you go http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/GOV/1/7/d1/4/2/s65850.5

      • Mongo The Idiot March 9, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

        Honorable Desert Tortoise,
        Worry less about literacy and more about human spirit. In the end those you labeled as inferior may be your caregivers. You will surely encounter many of them who prepare your food, wait on your table, and perform other tasks you have the luxury of hiring out. Be mindful oh Tortoise of what thy lips give, because what those same lips touch in reciprocation may be vile and disgusting.
        Your friend,
        High School Dropout

        • Desert Tortoise March 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

          That all sounds nice but it is perfectly worthless if you don’t understand how the laws work. Without that minimal understanding, you will bang your head against the wall for a very long time. We read all these anguished letters here, and yet no one seems aware that the reason the BoS is doing what it is doing is because they basically do not have any authority to stop a project outright. At best, they can use their involvement in the DEIR process to get the best deal for the county they can, but they have no ability to shut these projects down outright.

          • Mongo The Idiot March 10, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

            My understanding was that the BoS review process was necessary to gain variances and re-zoning so that the projects could go forward.
            If there were no variance or re-zoning necessary then BoS due process of public, environmental, and cultural review would not happen.

  3. Desert Tortoise March 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    I am including a link to the California Energy Commission website that in turn has a link to the Memorandum of Understanding between the CEC and BLM regarding the approval process for large solar power installations.


    Click on the link “Memorandum of Understanding” underlined in the text. If you read this and the associated legislation requiring utilities to obtain 33% of their electrical power from renewable resources you see that counties have no part in the process.

    I do not think this was an omission. The state does not want county or local governments putting up road blocks to the state as a whole meeting the renewable energy goal.

    • Ken Warner March 8, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      “The state does not want county or local governments putting up road blocks”

      And wisely so given the emotional irrationalism that some groups tend to become infected with, …”tolerate the emotional and logical outrage of their constituents …”

      How did we ever build the railroads???

      • Desert Tortoise March 8, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

        Railroads were given twenty square miles of free Federal land for every mile of rail laid. The Railroad Subsidy is the reason that the railroads were and may still be the largest private land owners in the US.

        The funny and sad thing is that many of those companies made their money developing and selling their land and were miserably inefficient railroads. When they ran out of land to sell most went bankrupt.


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