DWP’s Freeman Pushes Mega Solar Project on Owens Dry Lake

Within days of meeting with Inyo officials about vague future solar power plans for LA land here, DWP Chief David Freeman got very specific and charged ahead for approval of a $300 million solar power project on 616 acres at the Owens Dry Lake. The Air Pollution Control District here knew nothing about it.


DWP Chief David Freeman

Freemans ambitious plan went before the LA Water and Power Commissioners Tuesday. He proposed a 50 megawatt solar demonstration project that would cost $300 million. Annual operating costs, $1.7 million. The preliminary schedule assumes a State Lands Commission lease concluded this month, construction started by July of 2010, production of electricity by April of 2011 and project completion by January of 2012.

Freemans proposal assumes that the project would go forward with what is called a categorical exemption under environmental law.

Air Pollution Control District Director Ted Schade and his staff knew nothing about Freemans plan. Schade said, Solar panels are not currently an approved dust control measure. Schade said a couple of weeks ago DWP indicated plans for a pilot project on five DWP acres while testing various aspects of solar panels. Now, if the Commission says okay, DWP will try to steam roll ahead with a mega project.

On a Los Angeles TV interview Freeman had pointed to the Mayors edict to provide 20% of LAs power from renewable sources by 2010. Privately, some believe that Freeman will go to the highest levels in Sacramento to get his big plan underway.

Local officials were mystified considering the vague, general talk Freeman gave them a couple of weeks ago in a series of private meetings in Bishop.

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