Letter to the editor: Industrializing southern Inyo

Renewable Energy Development Areas - from Independence to Lone Pine only.

Renewable Energy Development Areas – from Independence to Lone Pine only.

Industrializing the heart of Owens Valley

by Daniel Pritchett

Over the last several months there has been a remarkable display of opposition to DWP’s proposed industrialscale solar facility near Manzanar (aka SOVSR). Reflecting this strong opposition, last month Owens Valley Paiutes, members of the Manzanar Committee, and the Owens Valley Committee formed an alliance and descended upon LA to discuss the project with political leaders.

In the process an LA political consulting firm offered its services pro bono to help. More discussions will happen soon. Meanwhile, what happened back in Owens Valley? The Inyo County Planning Department released a staff report which defined three alternatives for “Renewable Energy Development Areas” (REDA) in Inyo County.

All three alternatives define a large REDA in the heart of Owens Valley from Independence to Lone Pine. This REDA would give the (zoning) green light not only to SOVSR, but to its clone, the Northland project, proposed to be built along the northern edge of SOVSR. It’s hard not to see the elongated shape of the proposed REDA as a giant middle finger flipped by Planning Department staff at those who love Owens Valley.

The staff report lists a large number of criteria for “inclusion” of land in REDAs and a smaller number for “exclusion”. Among the exclusion criteria are “cultural and historic resources”, “scenic resources”, and “Manzanar historic landscape viewshed”. Apparently the Planning Department couldn’t figure out that the proposed REDA has numerous cultural and historic resources, is in the middle of a world-class scenic resource, and includes large parts of the historic Manzanar landscape viewshed.

County Supervisors and Commissioners typically acquiesce to staff recommendations. However, the General Plan Amendment which would include the Owens Valley REDA is not yet a done deal. There will be a workshop for the Planning Commission on February 26 at which public comments may be given. This is probably the best opportunity to modify the Amendment with its disastrous REDAs. If you value the scenic, historic, and cultural landscape in the heart of Owens Valley please attend, and ask the Planning Commission to reject staff recommendations for the Owens Valley REDA found in all three alternatives. The staff report (all 385 pages) with the recommendations is on the Planning Department website.

Daniel Pritchett

Bishop, CA

10 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
betsyp
betsyp
8 years ago

Benett, thank you. Can letters be sent in lieu of actually being present?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  betsyp

Yes. They will take letters up through that meeting. Also there is a long environmental review process that would follow with chances for public comment.

betsyp
betsyp
8 years ago

Can someone provide details about when and where the Feb 26 meeting will be held? Thank you.

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  betsyp

10am in the Board Room in Independence in the Administrative Center.

April Zrelak
April Zrelak
8 years ago

There are many disturbing items in this report. For example, Planning wants compensation for burden to County services if large-scale energy plants ARE built, and compensation (from whom?) if these same plants ARE NOT built. This is not taking a position, it is revenue enhancement at any cost. It appears… Read more »

Eastern Sierra Local
Eastern Sierra Local
8 years ago

I think it’s great that Inyo County is taking the lead on creating pre-planning development areas for renewable energy. This is exactly what this country and County needs to do to lessen our dependence upon foreign oil. Great work Inyo Planning! In regards to Mr. Prichett’s comment : “Apparently the… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

ESL: solid reasoning and arguments. But once again, it seems like simple truth confuses and outrages a certain community of less capable thinkers.

Mongo the Historian
Mongo the Historian
8 years ago

ES Local, Sutters Mill is in Coloma adjacent to a State Park. Sutters Fort is in the middle of Sacto’ City. Owens Valley is designated as a Scenic Byway, therefore it is a scenic resource. Either way the question remains; is The Scenic Byway worth preserving, or are other options… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

The Ivanpah plant cost US$2.2 billion to build and stretches over 3,500 acres (more than 1,400 hectares). ISEGS is the largest solar power plant of its kind, accounting for nearly 30 percent of solar power generated in the US. It uses 173,500 heliostats (computer-controlled mirrors) that follow the sun’s trajectory… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

It appears that the Inyo County Planning Department has located an REDA on top of the Lower Owens River Project. Mitigation on top of a Mitgation . While reviewing the Agenda packet at this link http://inyoplanning.org/projects/REGPA/Documents/REGPAPlanningCommissionStaffReportFebruary262014.pdf for the Feb 26 Planning Department, I am wondering how Inyo County could even… Read more »