Just over five years ago, the Governor issued an order to seriously reduce greenhouse gases over the next 40 years in California. This edict led to agencies joining forces to help with renewable energy projects. All of which has led to Inyo County’s naming of fourteen places throughout Inyo County for large-scale solar energy development – a fact which has upset a number of citizens who say they do not want industrial solar development throughout the County and that this conflicts with tourism. The latest draft plan goes to the Inyo Planning Commission Wednesday.
In 2011, Inyo County went ahead with a Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment to lay out details about energy development. The Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club sued the County in 2011 over environmental law. Then last year, the County signed an MOU with the California Energy Commission and later received a grant to come up with a new plan.
The MOU with the State focuses on planning and promotion of renewable energy development, particularly solar and wind. The Planning Department put together a 358-page report for Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting. Members of the public, overwhelmed by the length of the document and amount of information, asked if the Commission meeting could be put off for more time to review the information. That won’t happen.
The Planning Commission will review the draft plan and make a recommendation to the Supervisors. After that the Environmental Quality Act process kicks in with definition of the project and public comment periods. The proposed Renewable Energy Development areas include Laws, Fish Lake Valley, Deep Springs, Owens Valley, Owens Lake, Darwin, rose Valley, Pearsonville and several Death Valley areas. The most high profile site right now is the Owens Valley site south of Independence and near the Manzanar Historical Site.
Mark Bagley of the local Sierra Club went on record against plans for that huge solar array on Los Angeles land south of Independence. He named the viewscapes and character of the Owens Valley as reasons to avoid this development. Bagley points to solar on rooftops and parking lots in LA and here as alternatives. He also names 13 solar and wind energy projects in the West Mojave that would generate power for LA.
The Planning report is posted on the Planning Department website, www.inyoplanning.org.
The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26th at 10am at the Board Room in Independence.