Inyo, BrightSource sign deal

inyocourthouseOn the eve of hearings on the proposed Hidden Hills Solar project near Death Valley, BrightSource Energy and Inyo County have signed an agreement that addresses Inyo’s concerns, pays the County $15 million, minus certain credits, and assures Inyo will not oppose the project in front of the California Energy Commission. In a last minute, post agenda item, the Supervisors added the agreement and voted for it.  Sources said they were “negotiating up to the last minute.”  The agreement is posted on Inyo County’s website.

Tuesday, the Inyo Supervisors approved the agreement to satisfy county concerns about the project impacts. Officials had repeatedly said they had problems with the low amount of property taxes BrightSource would pay, the impacts of their large work force, law enforcement needs, and impacts to roads. The 15-page agreement says that BrightSource will pay Inyo $2.5 million upon commencement of construction and $12.5 million when the company starts to sell electricity. The agreement spells out that BrightSource is entitled to certain credits.

In exchange for this, Inyo County will not oppose the project when the California Energy Commission makes a decision on Hidden Hills. The agreement says that if BrightSource needs to use the Old Spanish Trail Highway for heavy truck hauling, they will pay Inyo a per-incident penalty of $10,000. Apparently, BrightSource plans to use other roads most of the time.

The document, signed by Hidden Hills officials and Inyo officials, lays out a number of details and possible scenarios in the course of the project, including possible plant closure and reclamation.

The Hidden Hills Solar project is described as a 500-megawatt power plant in Charleston View. The project includes two 750-foot towers surrounded by 85,000 mirrors with power generation equipment, electrical transformers and more. Power transmission is proposed through Nevada.

The Energy Commission staff had determined that this project would have significant impacts on many resources. With no opposition from Inyo, the Energy Commission will still likely demand mitigations or determine that the value of generating power outweighs the environmental impacts. Hearings in front of the CEC are scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday in Sacramento.

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Rayetta Haskin
Rayetta Haskin
9 years ago

Yes I sen the post this is temporarily suspended. I am writing this to let others know this type of project comes at a serious price to all of us. If it comes back up for consideration to the CEC. I am hoping with this message to ask others to… Read more »

Big AL
Big AL
9 years ago
Reply to  Rayetta Haskin

I’ve never been out to Charleston view, Ive heard people talk about it, sounds like a nice place .. but anywhere in this county is a nice place. There is beauty anywhere, you just have to see it. Companies choose places like this, because they feel it is just desolate… Read more »

Big AL
Big AL
9 years ago

Projects that could have been good for the county, and not brought a bad impact to the county have been run off by the county supervisors, and now something like this, that is clearly a bad thing for the county is going to be accepted by the county supervisors. Enticed… Read more »

BighornNV
BighornNV
9 years ago

We attended the hearing and found them to be a chilling repeat of other California Energy Commission hearings. On all subjects, the issues were never resolved. The project will use groundwater and nobody understands the extend of how their use of water will impact the aquifer. They admit that water… Read more »

Outsider
Outsider
9 years ago

Regardless of legality, a decision that has a 15 ( or is it 90+?) million dollar effect on the county should be disclosed and publically discussed with notice! All of these officials talk about transparency and wear it like a badge – especially the new ones – and this is… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
9 years ago

If the item wasn’t posted on the agenda, the supervisors may not legally discuss the item much less vote on it. This is a breath-takingly clear Brown Act violation and needs to be challenged in court.

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago

There are provisions for emergency items. Check out the Brown Act, but I believe this was Kosher.
Benett Kessler

One-term policy
One-term policy
9 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Benett – Supporters of the Brown Act say it still lacks enforcement, contending the law has been eroded by court decisions and government officials’ efforts to block access to records. “The unfulfilled promise, I’m afraid, that 50 years has revealed, is enforcement,” commented Terry Francke, of the California First Amendment… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago

You’re right about the voting. I have worked with Terry Francke on some Brown Act issues here in the Eastern Sierra. You’re also right that matters which should be discussed openly in front of the public are, instead, unfolded in secret. Officials will say that legal matters require closed sessions.… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
9 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Under the Brown Act, you can call an emergency meeting on short notice with an agenda published 24 hours before the meeting, but you cannot under any circumstances add an action item to a meeting in progress. That is always forbidden. Even with an emergency meeting, actions to be discussed… Read more »

Outsider
Outsider
9 years ago

Where can we find this agreement? It wasn’t even on the agenda – how did it get approved? I’m very curious as to how $15 million dollars satisfies Inyo’s original claim of over $90 million in impacts. Somethings fishy – either the original numbers were overstated in an attempt to… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
9 years ago
Reply to  Outsider

I have the agreement but was unable to post it online. Will keep trying. I do not know how the agreement was approved.
BK