Planning Commission considers plans for large-scale solar

One of fourteen Renewable Energy Development Areas - from Independence to Lone Pine.

One of fourteen Renewable Energy Development Areas – from Independence to Lone Pine.

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,

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26th at 10am at the Board Room in Independence.


25 Responses to Planning Commission considers plans for large-scale solar

  1. MJA February 26, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    I am in favor of green energy like so many others, but until the over-drafting of OV water is resolved, no other plans should be considered or approved. A ground water management plan that maintains a healthy water table insuring the health or life of the valley is the solution I see. =

  2. Waxlips February 26, 2014 at 6:23 am #

    There are lots and lots of living things on this planet, shame on man for thinking it’s all for him.

  3. Dessert Tortoise February 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    I like cream puffs! nom nom nom nom. Do you have any fudge?

  4. Gistine February 25, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    This is all fine and dandy, but the solar field in Nevada is frying scores of birds. I’m all for solar and alternative energy, but we must remember our ecosystem, too. Large scale fields are no bueno.

    • Ken Warner February 26, 2014 at 2:49 am #

      ….mmmmm fried bird….

      But seriously, I’ve read where 30% of young birds crash into things and die learning how to fly. Flying — apparently — is hard.

      Also, the greatest cause of bird mortality are cats. Do you have a cat?

      • sugar magnolia February 26, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

        OK Ken, back up your statement. Where is the greatest cause of bird mortality caused by cats? In the city or suburbs? It may be true there, of course I’m not sure what percentage of deaths = the greatest mortality…could be 10% could be 50%. Can’t tell by your statement.

        Yes, I agree with you that domestic cats kill a significant amount of birds in city and suburban areas. Does that equal the greatest rate of bird mortality world wide??? probably not!

        • Ken Warner February 26, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

          I guess the best way to find out is to do the research. Then you could tell me how wrong I am.

    • Desert Tortoise February 27, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

      This is PV, not the big reflective mirrors used on the plants in Nevada or the one down at Kramer Junction. PV panels are black and non-reflective.

  5. philip Anaya February 25, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    The Inyo General Plan

    page 1-1 paragraph 3

    “The Owens Valley is filled with items of visual interest , including creeks and riparian areas, lava flows, and cinder cones, interesting and unique communities ,broad grasslands, and golden fall colors”

    Page 1-1 paragraph 1

    ” Inyo County is a land of contrasts formed by the diverse and abundant natural riches located here. The County includes the lowest elevation in the Western hemisphere (-282 feet in Death Valley), the highest point in the continental United States (14497 feet at Mount Whitney), and one of the deepest valley’s in the world (Owens Valley). Within and between each of these areas is an extreme diverse palette of communities ,landscapes, and natural habitats that make Inyo County a distinct place to live and visit.”

  6. Joe February 25, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Heyduke Lives!!

    We will be hearing that said once again… These installations are prone to accidents and mysterious failures….

  7. Tony Cumia February 25, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Wrong, growing up in the 70s in grade school, all of our science teachers and hippy teachers scared the crap out of us about the pending ice age that was coming. It really scared us innocent hopeful kids a whole lot. But., I bet the folks in Chicago agree w you Ken.

    • Ken Warner February 25, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      The periodicity of glacial epochs are remarkable. And in fact the planet is on the cusp of the decent into another period of glaciation. Exactly when and why are not known.

      I’m sorry your grade school teachers traumatized you. I was more worried about nuclear war but I’ve since educated myself and am now worry free — except for my concern about the declining education and intelligence of the general population.

      • Tom O February 25, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

        Oh ya, some of my high school teachers of the same ilk kept reminding us how Reagan was going to blow up the world…..good ole public education….CSI is on soon Ken…lock and load.

  8. Desert Tortoise February 25, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    The cost to build and maintain the infrastructure to provide electricity is much greater than the revenue generated by it’s sale to single family homes virtually everywhere in the world. Likewise, the cost to provide electrical, gas and water to isolated communities in the US is more than the revenue that can be reasonably generated through utlity rates individual familes could afford to pay.

    What happens is that electricla rates to businesses are higher than they are for homes and apartments (and, interestingly, if my company pays the electric bill at a condo or duplex I own, since I am an S-Corp I pay a higher rate than my tenant would for the same energy used), and rate payers in large cities subsidize the cost of building and maintaining utility connections to isolated places.

    In essence, places like the Owens Valley and all of the Great Basin would not have any utilities if tax payers in cities like LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas didn’t subsize their construction and maintenance.

    So go ahead and bite the hand that feeds you, you ingrates. You don’t even realize the only reason you can even turn the lights on in Bishop or Mammoth Lakes is the generosity of your big coastal city residents who pay a big chunk of your bill.

    • Benett Kessler February 25, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

      The only reason LA can turn on the tap is Inyo-Mono water.

      • Eastside Dweller February 25, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

        Desert Tortoise, you have pointed out before that all utility infrastructure is subsidized for the growth of the nations economy. Without rural agriculture, mining and water, just how big and rich do you think Coastal cities would be? Just how are raw materials going to make it the city without some sort of utilities being provided? Next time you are eating a fresh beef steak instead of jerky, you might want to consider the benefit of refrigeration in rural areas.

        The Eastern Sierra had power plants and waterworks before LA showed up. This whole thread is about exporting power to LA, so I think you’re a little delusional about who’s feeding who. And you might want to read up about Cerro Gordo and all the other history of LA getting rich from local exports. Won’t even get into San Francisco, since you probably figure the wealth spread uphill to the Sierras from there too.

        • Desert Tortoise February 27, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

          Nonetheless, it was those rich coastal cities that paid the bill. For all the supposed riches you mention, they alone did not generate the money that paid the bills to put utilities in the isolated places of the US. That money came from the big cities that generate the real wealth in this nation.

          Farmers rely even today on cheap subsidized water to farm. They pay a fraction of the cost that cities do for the same water. If they had to pay as much per acre foot for water as cities in So Cal do, they would farm very differently, and they would not grow water wasters like cotton, rice and alfalfa (in circular fields in the desert no less -absolute stupidity).

          Cities pick up the bill so rural residents can live as they wish and still have a modicum of civilization. You cannot argue otherwise. Rural areas do not pay the full cost to provide services to their residents, and never have.

          • Benett Kessler February 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

            We can suggest, why bother arguing, that different areas complement each other. To denigrate rural areas is unkind and unnecessary and untrue. We provide resources for the big cities and their residents – either directly or as a place to recreate. Benett Kessler

    • Tom O February 25, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

      The electric grid……look it up. Ingrates? Is that all you have? Mature. Don’t forget where your water comes from.There would be no LA. Without it.

    • Waxlips February 26, 2014 at 6:13 am #

      Bull crap DT, we had water and electricity and gass and stores and whatever, before DWP.

  9. Eastern Sierra Local February 25, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    I hope that the Inyo County Planning Commission vehemently SUPPORTS this effort to reduce greenhouse gases that are leading to climate change! And stop this country’s addiction to foreign oil!
    Obama was in the Central Valley last week telling the press that this drought is caused by climate change!
    Darryl Steinberg in Sacramento is proposing a $.15/gallon California gas tax to reduce the affects of climate change in California as well! And he’s proposing to use “Cap and Trade” money to financially assist the High Speed Rail project!!

    These Far Left policies are now taking roost here in the Owens Valley- if you voted for these people you need to support what YOUR leaders want! You voted for it- ENJOY!

    • Ken Warner February 25, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

      “…These Far Left policies …” I think that the Far Right has skewed the political landscape to the degree that ordinary, sensible measures only look “Far Left” in comparison.

      Rapid Global Climate Change is real. We caused it by not paying attention to it and denying it when we did think about it. There were people warning about it 50 years ago. We ignored them. We can continue to ignore them and pay the price 50 years from now. Or we can do something now like expanding the base of solar energy capture.

      Will tourism still be the, “…bread and butter…” of the local economy when nobody wants to come here because it’s ugly from drought damage and exploitation?

    • Steve February 25, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      I would enjoy it allot more it deniers like you would really stick your head in the sand and keep it there.

      Because I am still trying to come up with how to explain to my grandchildren that in a democracy where the majority is the rule of law, that 15% of the citizens can hold the rest of us up.

    • Trouble February 27, 2014 at 8:08 am #

      Something doesn’t seem correct when you start taxing the item you are supposedly trying to do away with. Riddle me this Batman?

      • Batman February 27, 2014 at 11:57 am #

        Au contraire Mr. Trouble. Taxing something is the perfect way to do away with it. Taxes make the thing more expensive, and the more expensive it is the less people want it. Voila, mission accomplished. Cigarettes might be the most perfect example. It is not a coincidence that smoking went down as the taxes went up. Burning carbon is the contra-example. If we seriously wanted to address climate change, we would tax carbon use as we do cigarettes, which would change everybody’s behavior. The reason carbon taxes are off the table is because the powerful interests that are invested in burning carbon have no desire to reduce the use of carbon at the loss of their profits. Also, people might un-elect politicians if gas was $10.00 a gallon.


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