Letter to the editor: Call for open meetings on DWP solar project

National Park Service photo of solar site as seen from Manzanar.

National Park Service photo of solar site as seen from Manzanar.

Dear Editor:

In recent news reports, Inyo County CAO Kevin Carunchio is quoted as saying the county’s “first and foremost” concern with DWP’s proposed project is impacts to “local services” such as law enforcement and housing. As a result, county staff negotiated terms of a potential MOU to offset some — but not all — of the project’s potential impacts to local services.

I always thought the scope of county government’s concern was supposed to be the entire county, not just “local services.” Judging by terms of the proposed MOU, those of us who value our spectacular natural and cultural landscapes, open space, clean air, and native plants and animals apparently weren’t represented by county staff’ in the secret negotiations with DWP.

According to Carunchio, the terms of the MOU didn’t represent, “an automatic kowtow to LA” but rather, “prudence based on experience with BrightSource.” I would like to believe this is true, but history suggests otherwise. I will leave it to readers to recall the numerous examples of Inyo County kowtowing to DWP, rather than taking up space listing my own favorites.

In my comments at the August 6 Board of Supervisors meeting regarding the proposed MOU I stated that the county should seek to partner with other groups to oppose DWP’s ill-considered project rather than acquiescing. Mr. Carunchio himself mentioned this possibility of collaboration in opposition to the project in his subsequent comments to the Board.

According to news reports, the Manzanar Committee, Manzanar National Historic Site, and the Lone Pine and Big Pine Tribes are already on record opposing the project. We can now add the Owens Valley Committee as well, which voted unanimously at its last board meeting to oppose industrial-scale solar in Owens Valley. I urge Mr. Carunchio to follow through with this proposal to collaborate before it is too late. Instead of secret meetings with DWP let there be open meetings with interested parties as soon as possible. I suggest many individuals and groups would wish to participate in addition to the ones listed above.

Daniel Pritchett

Bishop, CA

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Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

Table 4.1-1. of the Draft EIR entitled “Cumulative Projects List” lists the Northland Power Independence, LLC Solar Project and the site is tucked right up between the LADWP’s Project and Mazourke Canyon Road . http://www.inyoplanning.org/projects/Northland.htm The NOP and the Initial Study have been completed but Northland Power has put the… Read more »

Casper Titchworth
Casper Titchworth
8 years ago

The Elk are an invasive species just like the frog eating trout. DFW is responsible for introducing both invassive species to the area. Solar panels could go anywhere DWP by wanting them in the Owen’s Valley just continues to proove they don’t give a damn about the area. It’s just… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

Casper, The California Fish and Wildlife site says the Elk are native to California. There are maps of their habitat (elk covering most of California prior to the gold rush) dating to before 1840 (pristine California) on their site. http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/elk/tule/about/distribution.html DWP’s installation of the solar panels encroaches on the last… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

Mongo doesn’t understand.
Why does Los Angeles take our life giving water away and then pollute our vistas with solar panels better suited to their own roofs?
If our representatives are from these communities, how can they let this happen?

Mr. Dreysdale
Mr. Dreysdale
8 years ago

Come listen to a story about a man called Mulholland. An ambitious engineer who couldn’t keep his ditches fed. Then one day he was shooting survey in Inyo. And down from the Sierra came tumbling H2O. Water that is, liquid gold, High Sierra Tea. Well the first thing you know… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

Simple. LA bought the land and the water rights that went with it. Moreover, they have put that water to “continuous beneficial use” which is a well defined term in western water law, meaning as long as they continue to exercise their water rights they can maintain them. If LA… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

LADWP did turn a blind eye to Mammoth’s water use for 60 years.
Benett Kessler

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

Questions;
Are there any ballot measures that Inyo residents could initiate to mitigate environmental damage and fund government through just compensation for exploited resources?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

I don’t know. Would suggest a call to the County Clerk.
BK

Daris
Daris
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Inyo might get a measure on the ballot but It most likely would not pass. Southern and most of Northern California have way more votes than Inyo and Mono county.

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago
Reply to  Daris

Darius, I’m talking about a county measure, not a state measure.

Daris
Daris
8 years ago

Mongo What good would a county measure do? Our supervisors do not make LADWP abide by the Inyo Co./ L.A. long term water agreement now. MOU states they (LA) will maintain the vegetation in the valley as it was in 1981-82. Anybody but a blind person can see how this… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

Daris, Federal courts mandate enforcement of county, state, and federal ballot initiatives that pass. A passed initiative can take the burden of enforcement beyond local jurisdictions. Additionally the passing of a ballot measure makes the desire of the majority in a community known. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballot_initiative This is healthy for a community;… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

Question:
Is the purpose of this “solar ranch” to benefit Owens or Los Angeles?
Is this project evoking the same sort of greed that caused ranchers to sell out in 1913?
If the county needs money, why don’t the voters petition for a export water tax ballot measure?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

Some answers – This project is to generate power for LA. Inyo might get money to cover increased service costs but not all of the costs.
LADWP already pays taxes on its water, according to a formula LA pushed through the legislature some years ago.
Benett Kessler

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

DWP has historically produced enough power to exceed peak demand for it’s customers. ( Not sure about current figures). This means it has the ability to sell power at most any time. (Good for customers. Good for LA city. Lower rates, avoided Enron blackouts, etc.) So, this project’s power is… Read more »

Inyo Loco
Inyo Loco
8 years ago

Good thinking DWP! That’s another 1200 acres you don’t have to worry about keeping plants and animals alive on. Who cares about the water agreement? Why not cover the whole east side of the Owens Valley in solar panels and then pump the heck out of it. No worries, nothing… Read more »

Bobo
Bobo
8 years ago

Tracking mounts, problem solved 🙂

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

First off, no joke! You guys are a whole lot smarter than Mongo. Ken W implies that the panels will be invisible because they are pointed at the sun. ES Local implies that hybrid cars should give the project an instant thumbs up and that the only negative impact is… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

“You guys are a whole lot smarter than Mongo. Ken W implies that the panels will be invisible because they are pointed at the sun.” I don’t think we are smarter than you. But I wish you would learn to read with comprehension. I said the reflection from the panels… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Thanks Ken, Mongo needs to be reminded time to time just how stupid he is.

Mark
Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Large solar farms in the Antelope Valley do not have tracking mounts.

Just tell Obama Eastern Sierra tourism is solar powered and Obama will supsidize the entire area.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Yes, and the large solar farms in the Antelope Valley do not have a reflection problem either.

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago

MTI, I also may end up hanging my head all the way to the bank. I gave up some income to live here. Largely because of the view that leaves me in awe every day. When I look to the mountains, sky, or out over the valley it makes me… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

Eastside Dweller, I love your nicely written and thoughtful post, this is just how I feel. I spent three glorious days in the shadow of giants where I was surrounded by the kindness of community. I love your description of valley life; it along with my own experience evokes images… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

Mongo has good brain and a even better heart .

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

Thank You PA…
I have lived on the earth and know its value, it is that which has filled my heart.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

If the solar panels are mounted on sun tracking mounts the efficiency of the site will be increase measurably and the reflections from the solar panels will be directed right back at the Sun. Problem solved. And constructing those sun tracking panel mounts would be a nice auxiliary business for… Read more »

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

From what I know, solar tracking is not worth the cost with panels. More useful with parabolic reflectors used in steam generation. Judging from having flown over parabolics they are much more reflective, almost blinding. Not a problem unless you want to view the valley from the crest of the… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

I find the concern about visual pollution curious because it always seems to be a bane on tourism. Yet the impact on the Owens Valley of millions of tourists every year seems never to be discussed.

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Not glorifying tourism, but would hate to tear down one business for another that has not proven itself. I like solar. Smaller projects near point of use is more appropriate.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

Your assessment that it’s either solar energy or tourism is fallacious for a number of reasons. Primarily because the size of the LADWP Manzanar site is a tiny dot in the Owens Valley and contrary to what some have said, the Owens Valley is not going to be covered with… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

Plus solar only provides temporary jobs. Once the project is over very few people are required.

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago

My assessment is that this particular use of solar will impact tourism. Smaller projects covering parking lots such as Manzanar’s and Von’s could enhance it.

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

If you we’re viewing the valley from the crest at sunset the panels on the valley floor would already be cast in the Shadow of the Sierra crest.

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

Was talking about parabolics not panels, but you’re right about that particular angle. Sunrise from the Inyos?

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Hey KW, Your idea for tracking mounts would be a mitigation measure for the issue of glare form the project. By the way everyone who has a concern and a mitgation idea for this project can send a letter via email to the LADWP 1st contact person for this project… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

Try it with a hand held mirror. Point the mirror right at the Sun. Where does the reflections go?

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Would be a good test to put up an acre of flat panels and acre of tracking panels to compare. The cost of panels has dropped to where it is less expensive to add more panels over the cost of installing and maintaining tracking. This would have to be considered… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

btw, they flat panels are not actually mounted flat. They face to the South, and probably 5 or 6 feet off the ground on the high side. Tracking panels are much taller especially in the winter when the sun is low. They could be as high as 15ft or more… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

KW , If you are standing anywhere within 360 degrees of the line of sight of your mirror and your eyeballs are anywhere above the mirror you will see the sunlight in the mirror. The focused direct reflection of the sun in the mirror should be back at the sun… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

…alrighty then… We have to scrap the idea of solar panels because they reflect sunlight.

And figure out what to do about that dangerous reflection off bodies of water like the ocean. Maybe we should curtail trans-oceanic flights until you come up with a perfect solution.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

These are not mirrors! They are PV arrays and are a deep dark blue color. They are not reflecive.

Solar Farm
Solar Farm
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken, we live full time with solar as we are off the grid. We have a solar tracker for the panels that run our water pump. It produces 40% more water in the summer and 10% more in the winter. The tracker was installed when solar panels cost $5.00 a… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

Our Inyo Board of Supervisors would be derelict to it’s responsibilities to Owens Valley if they consider a DWP Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) without first taking into account a Final site specific EIR. Open and public meetings and input into the Environmental Review process is made even more necessary by… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

There is no glare from solar panels. They are dark in color and not very reflective. You are thinking of the mirrors used to reflect sunlight into a point source for heating water into steam, such as those used at Kramer Junction or the small pilot plant immediately north of… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

The solar plant at Ave G and Sierra hwy hasn’t been operational for months. The Owens Valley is not the place for any huge solar farms. Keep it on the roof tops.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark

I am not talking about that plant. It was a pilot project and the technology has become uncompetitive as PV prices have fallen. I am talking about a big PV array on both sides of Hwy 138 well to the east of the developed parts of Lancaster. It is much… Read more »

Eastern Sierra Local
Eastern Sierra Local
8 years ago

Interesting comment however, Mr Pritchett is a vehement opponent of LADWP and ANYTHING DWP proposes to do in the Owens Valley is always met with his opposition. The Owens Valley Committee is made of of individuals mostly hand selected by Mr. Pritchett and his partner Sally Manning so their “official”… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

You and Mr. Pritchett have different views, but that’s not the point. His letter calls for open meetings and discussion on the solar project. Open government is what our nation should be about whenever it can be. That’s where citizens’ views are represented – in public meetings with their elected… Read more »

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

This thread of discussion shows the need for open meetings. SW should be reporting on these comments being brought to the Board, and not just here.

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

This website is news reporting.
Benett Kessler

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Meant that there should be more open meetings for us to comment in and you to report on.

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

Gotcha. We love open meetings.
BK

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago

Yes, utilities are under mandates from the Feds and State. (Whether or not they make ecological, business or common sense). Please show me the mandate to use this specific technology in this specific way in this specific place.

Eastern Sierra Local
Eastern Sierra Local
8 years ago

In 2002, California established its Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program, with the goal of increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the state’s electricity mix to 20 percent of retail sales by 2017. The 2003 Integrated Energy Policy Report recommended accelerating that goal to 20 percent by 2010, and the… Read more »

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago

Yes, utilities are under mandates from the Feds and State. Please show me the mandate to use this specific technology in this specific way in this specific place.

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

Totally not appropriate in the scenic Owens valley. Don’t be fooled (again and again) by DWP.

Mary Roper
Mary Roper
8 years ago

I am an Owens Valley Committee Board Member and I can assure Mr. “Eastern Sierra Local” that I was not “hand picked” by Mr. Pritchett, Ms. Manning or anybody else. My purpose for serving on this board is to do my part in making sure that the 1991 Inyo/LA Water… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

You are correct ESLocal. “DWP has inadvertantly maintained the Owens Valley in a undeveloped and relativley natural state.” however this has allowed “Everyone” who is fortunate enough to come here “to enjoy the Valley’s spectacular natural and cultural landscapes,open space,clean air and native plants and animals.” There is nothing inadvertant… Read more »

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

P.A., you come off as elitist and NIMBY when you suggest DWP just move the project down the road. That is up to DWP and the citizens down the road that may value their view or have other concerns. Our concern is what happens in our hood. DWP did put… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

This is a true story, only the name was changed to protect the guilty. Mongo drove up 395 today from LA. Mongo was very sad because of the stress of city life and wasn’t sure he would be able to enjoy the weekend. Then it happened; Mongo entered the Owens… Read more »

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago

If the county decides to support this boondoggle, it should push that all temporary jobs should be filled by qualified local workers before importing workers from elsewhere. This would cause the least impact to local services and the most benefit to local families and economies. There will be a core… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

I’ve been saying for years that education should be one of the three pillars of the economy of the entire East Side. Maybe Inyo and Mono counties should get together to create educational programs that prepare the young people coming out of high school for 21’st century jobs like renewable… Read more »

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Even if too late on this project, and I do not think it is entirely, this is the perfect time to start training programs and negotiate for DWP and Union support. Much of this work is low and semi-skilled and will be done with helpers and “Utility Pre Craft Trainees”… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

You are apparently unaware of the wind turbine academy taught by Cerro Coso Community College. it is a six month program teacing the maintenance of big wind turbines and it is booked pretty solid due to high demand for that skill. The program is very well regarded.

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago

I have heard it is a good course. The City of LA gives preference to it’s own courses and residents, so I was pointing out ways to work for DWP locally and maybe on this solar project.

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

If I were an LA City Council member voting to authorize this spending, I would demand as much LA based labor and material purchases as possible. Keep in mind the LA rate payer is not doing this for you, they are doing it for them. They have a strong motivation… Read more »

Eastside Dweller
Eastside Dweller
8 years ago

City of LA has the duty and right to take care of their own citizens first. We have nothing to say about how they do business in their city. When they cross the county line to do business here in Owens Valley they are a land and business owner, not… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

As county supervisor, Mongo would find a way to educate everyone in LA about the destructive exploitation their city has caused to the Inyo. * LA drained 100 square mile Owens Lake. * High country lakes are dangerously low. * Elk habitat and open space are being threatened. Mongo would… Read more »

Daris
Daris
8 years ago

I agree there have been too many closed session meetings on matters that concern the voters of Inyo County. Come on Supervisors try to be transparent and put all the facts and concerns before the public.