LADWP solar project – what value to Inyo?

Inyo Sups 2013The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power wants to build a 200 megawatt solar project south of Independence. LA will get all the taxes from the project and the power. What does Inyo get? Not much, according to a proposed Term Sheet negotiated by Inyo and DWP staff.

The Board of Supervisors approved the non-binding term sheet, created by County Administrator Kevin Carunchio and attorney Greg James, at a meeting last week. Supervisor Jeff Griffiths was the lone no vote. Griffiths said he has not seen even a description of the project, does not know the impacts and wants to see the Draft EIR and the public’s reaction before he votes on anything.

What is known is that the project would include a million solar panels over two square miles and generate 200 megawatts of power. There is no physical description, no knowledge of visibility and ground disturbance and no public input so far.

In the seven page Term Sheet, County staff spelled out what DWP wants to do. The report says once the County okays the Term Sheet, that would become the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding. The Term Sheet is non-binding. That document says LADWP would make a one-time payment to Inyo of $4.5 million to offset project-related costs. County Administrator Kevin Carunchio said the costs to the general fund are estimated at $6.1 million. This would include law enforcement, other services for the several hundred workforce and monitoring of the project.

LA would loan Inyo $2 million to improve County campgrounds and local housing for employees to have a place to live. Carunchio said between 50 and 300 workers could come to town for the project with impacts on Independence and Lone Pine. The CAO said that it is his understanding that the Draft EIR would come out at the end of this month with a final decision by LA at the end of the year. Carunchio said there is a planned five-year build out of the project from 2014 to 2019.

Inyo would not get any tax benefit from this project, according to officials. Supervisor Griffiths said that Attorney Greg James told the Board that DWP’s project would be exempt from property taxes because of a state law. As for taxing materials, LA wants those taxes to go to the City of Los Angeles, not Inyo County. Supervisor Griffiths said that question is not completely answered.


, , , ,

34 Responses to LADWP solar project – what value to Inyo?

  1. Daris August 16, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Here we go again our elected Supervisors making decisions on something that the voting public has no say or input on. Remember these “negotiate behind close doors agreements” come election time how some Supervisors voted on this solar project and the county complex in Bishop.

  2. JeremiahJoseph August 15, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Covering the dry lake in solar arrays seems more of a win win..
    Thanks April for the Info!
    So they are making loans to Inyo campgrounds, 2 new groundwater wells (yeah, Inyo really needs that) and not even enought to offset costs?
    Besides LADWP flexing its muscles in way of letting us know again how they own the valley, whats the real benefit to the valley?
    Of course I agree with Green energy compared to current energy sources but wheres the real benefit if its really not going to make a difference if the power goes out in the valley? we would have power being massively produced but yet can’t use if needed? (yeah that’s a real benefit)
    How about LADWP give up some of the land around the Inyo/Mono community’s, offer some solar arrays on that property that feed directly into vital services (that the county has to currently cover)? but that would be a real one sided benefit to the people of OV, the one sided benefits are to go to LA! Not Owens Valley..

    • Mark August 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      From what I’ve seen in the Antelope Valley covering the lake bed with solar panels wouldn’t help the dust it would actually make it harder to manage. Something would have to be put on the lake bed.. concrete, asphalt or ??? all of which would run the cost up.

    • Philip Anaya August 16, 2013 at 7:21 am #

      With so many construction professionals with great skill sets in the Owens Valley underemployed the offer of 10 positions of 300-400 provides little benefit to the Valley. Couldn’t agree with you more JJ. DWP, I thought ,was suppose to be releasing parcels for limited growth and economic development. This morning it is reported that housing starts are up 4.9% nationally . Inyo county probably is a negative %. There are many business’s who are leasing their locations from the DWP and if given the opportunity these business’s would be looking to upgrade and expand their facilities if they owned their locations. The Chamber of Commerce could be all over this and I’s sure they will before this is all settled.
      If 3,4 or 5 of our Board of Supervisiors demonstrated reluctance or hesitance to approve this project then LADWP might be forced to blink. They have a lot invested in this project and they are required to generate more and more renewable energy as time goes by. The County is in a strong barganing position and they should only approve this project or any other for that matter, if the project is benefical for the Owens Valley

  3. wow August 14, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    The supervisors already approved this. Why did you not report this as it was being negotiated.

    This term sheet is a sell out.
    With all the land DWP has out there they need to piss on Manzanar!!!!
    DWP you need to go, YOu are too big and powerful

    • Benett Kessler August 14, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

      I reported it as soon as I knew about it. We did not know Carunchio and James were negotiating.
      This was a non-binding Term Sheet. It does not, supposedly, commit the Supervisors.
      Benett Kessler

  4. Really ? August 14, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    LA has taken the Water, now they want the sunshine too?

    • DESCO August 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

      April, God bless you for taking the time and having the intelligence to research this obnoxious, underhanded project. “Green” has become both a religion and a political cause. “Green” at any cost is way of life. The two things I never argue about are religion and politics, you can’t win.
      Ten local jobs. Five broom pushers and five trained solar technicians from somewhere else, for what?
      If the county politicians sell us down the road on this they better start looking for real jobs.

  5. April Zrelak August 14, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    The economice ‘benefit’ consists of:

    1) A $2 million LOAN for County campground improvement and public housing or ‘other’. (there is no public housing and the campgrounds belong to DWP , though this is all subject to future negotiations and DWP approval).
    2) A $4.5 million payment to offset increase in County services, although the County’s estimate of increase in services is more than $6 million.
    3) 10 unskilled labor trainee positions over the 5 year development. The workforce import is expected to be as high as 350.
    4) Energy Efficiency program for local schools. This is a current program already offered to schools, so is not conditioned on this agreement. South county schools just haven’t taken advantage of the program in several years.
    5) Possible increase in FiT (Feed in Tariff) to a maximum of 10MW. 4MW Fit projects have already been approved in OV. This, too, is subject to further approval by DWP Board. FiT power cannot be used for local (even owner) consumption, therefore benefits a few people who have enough unused property to build an array that produces power for the DWP grid.

    The concessions:

    1) An MOU must be signed by the County PRIOR to the end of draft EIR public comment. How much prior was not stated. We can be sure the pressure will be on to do that ASAP so that the County will not be swayed by those who delve into the EIR in earnest. I suggest DWP will sweeten the pot behind the scenes to buy a quick turn-around.
    2) 2 new groundwater wells for dust mitigation. LADWP’s lawsuit for Owens Lake dust mitigation claims that using clean water to control dust is a violation of the CA State Constitution! Also, these wells come under the Long Term Water Agreement. The County will presumably be signing those rights away with this MOU.
    3) The County will not pursue any permitting, zoning, fees or exactions. If the County doesn’t already have any of this power on LADWP land, why is necessary to sign it away? The laws are not that clear and DWP wants to be sure the County remains powerless.
    4) The project violates the General Plan. DWP wants the assurance that the County will not assert that.
    5) The County will not challenge OR SUPPORT ANY CHALLENGE to the final EIR So, if the EIR is inadequate, it will remain the burden of private individuals, non-profits and Tribes to fight in the courts. Our elected representatives will be sitting on the side-lines saying they did this for us. LADWP’s history of inadequate EIRs is well established.

    So, aside from whether you think a large PV solar array is beneficial or inevitable you should be alarmed that the Board Of Supervisors had already directed Staff to negotiate the Term Sheet, then scheduled to approve it without telling the public what is going on. Only Supervisor Griffiths was uneasy enough to say no to the immense pressure to sign a document (non-binding to be sure, but is the basis for the MOU)without enough information before him. The BOS did not even know the details or the change in location before the start of the discussion during last Tuesday’s meeting, yet they made verbal assumptions for the public benefit without asking the public. DWP bullied your Board by claiming that they would just come in and do whatever they want unless the Term Sheet was signed immediately. Let’s hope some of this discussion will help them to see that there are real concerns from their constiuents and that any MOU must be preceded by adequate public input. Even if you think $4.5 million is enough hush money for the tremendous local impacts, you should demand to be properly informed of the process.

    I urge you to watch the LADWP Commission meetings at:
    Here you will see what LADWP staff is saying (or not saying) to their Board regarding Owens Valley projects.

    • Ken Warner August 14, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      Very complete analysis. Thanks. It seems as though there is much to be decided. I hope your BOS has the strength and foresight to do the right thing.

  6. Steve August 14, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    Let me get this straight. DWP fights tooth and nail trying to not clean up 2 square miles of dusty Owens Lake.

    But would like to clear 2 square miles of native brush that is holding down the dust from extremely dusty area between Lone Pine and Independence.

    I think are Supervisors need to take a field trip along the power line road in that area in a convertible.

  7. Ken Warner August 13, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    People who keep saying no, no no, to these kinds of projects keep turning on their lights and air conditioners and microwaves and offer no alternatives to supply their needs.

    A no to a project like this without a real method to replace the energy that would have entered the grid is a hollow position and has little merit or reason to be taken seriously.

    You say, but the electricity will go to L.A. Yes and the electricity that this project would provide will not come from the places that the Owens Valley uses. The more electricity total that we have, the less electricity costs the consumer — which we all are. I don’t know about you but $150 utility bills are no fun when you are on a fixed income.

    • JeremiahJoseph August 15, 2013 at 7:55 am #

      I hear that Ken, those that say no for whatever reason continue to soak up the benefits of such a convenient lifestyle but yet have no other or better ideas, and at the same time not willing to sacrifice anything, especially the “entitlement” feeling we have to such convenience. Our lifestyles are very much unsustainable, yes having a huge solar array in the valley isn’t going to be very attractive to many, but to continue to ask of MotherEarth to produce and maintain the current ways of rejuvenating energy is foolish, yes having acres of solar arrays is ugly, but so is privatizing a precious resource with the soul purpose of a few individuals to acquire as much money and power as possible…
      Ken’s right, if you enjoy all the technological advancements that we have today, it’s time to show appreciation to the life supporting systems that make it possible. I don’t know about y’all, but I try not to take this obvious fortunate life for granted and not sit on my hands on such a huge issue that continue’s to be kicked down the road, all because it treads on the established powers status quo of making profits and keeping power….
      Green energy anywhere and everywhere until we get rid of dirty energy and mindless consumerism…
      Climate is changing and we the people aren’t helping, our very own life supporting systems we rely on are in decline, if we were to align with Natures natural order of laws we might give the generations after us a better chance, rather then make the rules up as we go, curving them to suit profits and human needs, if my observations are correct it seems that’s a recipe for disaster..?

  8. LoneRanger August 13, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    Ms. Kessler, LA does not get any tax benefits from this, on the contrary this project will cost LA ratepayers plenty to implement. Inyo county will have numerous direct and indirect benefits from the project and should be careful not to chase it away as they did the Britesource project.

    • Benett Kessler August 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

      The City of LA will get sales tax benefits. I named the only benefits LA has been willing to fork over. Do you know others?
      Benett Kessler

      • Desert Tortoise August 14, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

        I guess I do not understand what you are saying. Sales taxes in California are only applied to the sale of tangible real property. They are not applied to services, labor or rent. There is no sales tax on electricity. What sales tax benefit will LA accrue from this solar power facility?

  9. Solar Deity August 13, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    I think if people took a drive down to the Antelope Valley and look at the solar farms down there, they would return to Inyo County and not only say no, they’d say hell no.

  10. Ken Warner August 13, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    Inyo County might be getting a huge bargaining chip.

    If Inyo can really stop this project — which would mean a lot of money to LADWP — maybe Inyo can use it to get more water into Owens Lake and more water into the lower Owens River — maybe?

    But get the water first. If they can.

    • Benett Kessler August 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      Not to mention, secure water for golf courses and government parks leased from LADWP.

  11. bobby August 12, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    You gotta be kidding? Have little brief cases full of cash already been handed out? No know impact? No footprint removal? Take the water till this is turned into the new death valley and now pollute the remaining lands? You got rocks all over almost dry now Owens lake, what is wrong with that land? I am sure the Manzanar Museum tourist need more enlightenment? Major traffic and housing issues abound? And when its not retrofitted and dies, whom will clean this up? It must be tough paying Edison and mwd for water and power, but face it. L.A. gave up getting its own valley sources of waters and dams after the famous mullholland San Francisco canyon dam dlsaster. Will you bring back more outdated ideals like creek hydro turbans also?

  12. Big Rick OBrien August 12, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    The greed shown by the (city of angels) is never-ending…and Desco is right. Why put it 3 counties away when it contributes absolutely NOTHING to Inyo County but a major blight on the landscape.
    And don’t think for a moment that they’ll hire locally….they’ll bring in their OWN people, sure as sh*# !

    • Benett Kessler August 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

      I forgot to mention, the Term Sheet says LA will guarantee to hire…10 local workers.

    • Ken Warner August 14, 2013 at 7:59 am #

      Do you know where you get your electricity from? Any idea?

      Do you know where the Hoover Dam is? Or San Onofre Nuclear Plant? Do you know where any power plants are?

      Do you have a problem with Casa Diablo or Rush Creek or the Gorge power plant?

      What exactly is your problem? Too much cheap electricity is anathema to you? You want invisible power plants like Wonder Woman’s invisible airplane?

      Tell us your solutions to providing the energy necessary to allow people to express their noteworthy viewpoints on blogs like this. Maybe smoke signals or tin cans on strings? Flashing mirrors in the Sun? I’d really like to know.

      • Talon38c August 14, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

        I am certain that Mono and Inyo counties would have had the resources to provide power for themselves over time given moderate growth. Certainly not in the scope of Middle and Upper Gorge power plants in Casa Diablo and Control Gorge in Rovana but why would they need that? Those plants were primarily built for water. Had LA never shown their face in Bishop, the Eastern Sierra communities would have had Bishop Creek and others to develop for their own use.

        • Benett Kessler August 14, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

          Sales tax on the huge amount of materials purchased to build the project.

          • Mark August 15, 2013 at 10:20 am #

            The majority of material was probably truck in from out of the area

          • Benett Kessler August 15, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

            Nothing has been trucked in yet. According to officials, there can be negotiations as to where sales tax goes. LA always pulls out its City Charter to claim the right.
            Benett Kessler

      • talon38c August 14, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

        >> Tell us your solutions to providing the energy necessary to allow people to express their noteworthy viewpoints on blogs like this.

        Manage growth responsibly. Simple.

        The reason that LADWP is struggling to provide water and power to LA is because there is no connection between development and infrastructure. They overcommit (to the point of fraud) and never deliver. They don’t deliver because they can’t. Water and power is expensive because it is being rationed.

        LA’s city leaders don’t mind that inconvenient truth because the rising costs are easily cloaked in easy to digest terms such as ‘conservation’ or ‘improving water quality’, or blamed on ‘drought’ depending on the audience. They can then continue to build high rise multiunit housing.

        Why officials from other counties would even entertain on the idea of negotiating with LA is beyond comprehension.

        • Ken Warner August 15, 2013 at 8:09 am #

          “Manage growth responsibly. Simple.”

          That is a great idea! But when has that EVER happened? People are all for responsibility — in others — as long as they aren’t affected. Refer to the previous conversations about DUI checkpoints, Government control of health care, gun control, immigration control, SUV’s and large diesel trucks to go to the market, OHV’s, lawns in a desert, single child families, etc. etc.

          Responsibility rarely seems to come about spontaneously. And it seems to always be opposed when responsibility is required.

      • Hydro Joe August 15, 2013 at 9:13 am #

        Hydro has always been the cheapest and most stable source of power and it will always be the cheapest sourse. Unfortunately the dams necessary to provide the power have sever invironmental impacts on the creeks and rivers they block.

        The governemental funding of green energy solar/wind is full of coruption and bankrupt businesses. It’s a complete joke when you take a close look at return on investment.

        Kalifornia is already in the handbasket headed to ________

  13. Dingo August 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    I’ve called them the “Evil Empire” previously and I’m sticking to that.
    I don’t trust those donkeys.

  14. John Barton August 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Thanks Jeff for being the only Supervisor to ask questions first.

  15. DESCO August 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    Here’s some public input, NO WAY IN HELL.
    Let them build it way outside Lancaster. The power will be closer to where it will be used and that area is already screwed up. One more eyesore will not make much difference.
    Two square miles!!! Come on it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what that will look like.

    • Talon38C August 13, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

      Inyo is becoming nothing more than L.A.’s service porch. How did they come to own this property? Is there anything that LA can’t do?


Leave a Reply

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