Letter to the editor: Manzanar Committee opposes LADWP Solar Ranch

 Looking east from the visitor’s center at Manzanar National Historic Site. The floor of the Owens Valley, along with the Inyo Mountains in the background, are visible. But this view could be destroyed by a massive solar energy generating station, proposed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. National Park Service Photo

Looking east from the visitor’s center at Manzanar National Historic Site. The floor of the Owens Valley, along with the Inyo Mountains in the background, are visible. But this view could be destroyed by a massive solar energy generating station, proposed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. National Park Service Photo

Manzanar Committee Denounces LADWP Proposal To Build 1,200-Acre Solar Farm Near Manzanar

LOS ANGELES — On August 16, the Manzanar Committee announced its opposition to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) proposed 1,200-acre Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch, which would be constructed east of the Owens River, but in a direct line of sight with the Manzanar National Historic Site, which lies to the immediate west.

The proposed site would generate electricity that would be delivered to LADWP customers in Los Angeles. But generating that energy would result in the destruction of Manzanar’s historic solid waste dump, which has not undergone an archeological study. Equally important, the site’s approximately one million solar panels, along with buildings, large equipment, transformers, a substation, transmission lines, and much more, would destroy a significant portion of the historic landscape surrounding Manzanar National Historic Site.

“The importance of maintaining and enhancing the physical characteristics of the Manzanar National Historic Site cannot be downplayed or overlooked,” said Manzanar Committee Co- Chair Bruce Embrey. “One of the most powerful parts of Manzanar is the unobstructed view, and that many of the structures, gardens and other features of the World War II American concentration camp have not been bulldozed over or destroyed by ‘development.’

“Some of the best and most memorable parts of Manzanar have always been seeing the remnants of the camp set in contrast to the natural landscape of the area,” added Embrey. “The continued restoration of the gardens, the apple orchard, and other crucial archaeological aspects, including Manzanar’s World War II-era solid waste dump, which undoubtedly contains historically significant artifacts—none of that should be compromised for commercial exploitation.”

Embrey noted that while LADWP has supported the Manzanar Pilgrimage for many years, this proposal is yet another blot on their poor record regarding the site.

“LADWP has a long and checkered history regarding the establishment of the Manzanar National Historic Site,” Embrey stressed. “They have offered support over the years to the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, led for decades by Sue Kunitomi Embrey. But the relationship between LADWP and the Manzanar Committee has been marked by serious and fundamental disagreements along the way.”

“LADWP opposed efforts to establish a National Historic Site at Manzanar, arguing instead for a local memorial park,” added Embrey. “Even as late as 1991, they continued their efforts, under then-General Manager Michael Gage, to prevent the establishment of a National Historic Site under the auspices of the National Park Service.”

As a response to an LADWP-supported bill in Congress that would have established a locally administered memorial at Manzanar, rather than a National Historic Site, in an October 5, 1991 letter to the editor, Sue Kunitomi Embrey, one of the founders of the Manzanar Pilgrimage and the Manzanar Committee, wrote in the Los Angeles Times:

“The DWP proposal is highly inappropriate and totally unacceptable to the Manzanar Committee for many reasons, the important one being that Manzanar has national significance, and local jurisdiction does not give Manzanar the integrity and national recognition it deserves.”

More than twenty years later, LADWP’s insensitivity and disregard for Manzanar, not to mention the people who were unjustly incarcerated there, and their families, continues.

“The very idea that any land in or around the Manzanar National Historic Site could be used for a massive generating facility would not harm the ongoing efforts to preserve and understand the tragedy of justice that occurred there is simply beyond insensitive, and it’s not just insensitive to the Japanese American community, the survivors of America’s concentration camps and their families,” Embrey lamented. “That gross insensitivity extends to the efforts of the National Park Service, and others who have worked so hard to bring this brief, but essential, part of American History to light.”

“George Santayana said, “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it,” Embrey added. “This is true for our nation, and for the LADWP. Their proposed solar farm will severely harm efforts to remember our past.”

“The long-term, negative impact on the Manzanar National Historic Site cannot be understated. We call on the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, as well as the LADWP, to revisit the proposal and find another, more suitable location for the proposed solar generating station.

The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site. For more information, send e-mail to [email protected], call (323) 662-5102, or check their blog at http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org.

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Craig
Craig
8 years ago

I havent even gone through everything you all have been ranting about…. I have a garage with one side facing south… Its a 15 x 35 on one side…. I bought everything, installed it, and im running my shop off of it. TOO powerful… I called DWP and they said… Read more »

Craig
Craig
8 years ago

Why not… you cant see anything from Manzanar ‘Historic’ site… The solar project is waaaaay out on the plains where only the locals roam, and theres nothing out there… The public wont see anything, and if they did they would have to be on Owenyo road on the plains or… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

One more thought .There has been a significant changing of the guard at the LADWP . There is a new Mayor who has let go 4 of 5 Water Commissioners who had previously approved this project and term sheet at the DWP level . Our Supervisiors who have also approved… Read more »

Jon Klusmire
Jon Klusmire
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

Phil, I checked several web sites for the 1,000 home stat, and it was pretty consistent, so I went to Wiki Answers for the 500 homes you cited: This is copied directly from Wiki Answers: “An average U.S. household uses about 10,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year. A watt… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago
Reply to  Jon Klusmire

Jon ,here’s the link http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_homes_will_1_megawatts_power There is actually two wiki answers web links available. this one that says 500 and the other that says 1000. A BLM solar development expert I spoke with this morning said that they use a very conservative figure of 325-350 homes. Solar development is as… Read more »

Jon Klusmire
Jon Klusmire
8 years ago

FYI, One megawatt of electricty is enough to supply 1,000 homes, so this plant will power 200,000 homes.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

The sun rose this morning at 6:11 am . The Solar Ranch site was still in the shadow of the Inyo Mountains at 7:15 am this morning as I drove south past Independence on my way to Lone Pine. If this solar development was sited for example in the Antelope… Read more »

Reality Check
Reality Check
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

Philip, you do know that solar panels face south not east so it really does not matter much when the sun shines on the site from the east unless the panels were on a tracker? Within a few hours of sunrise, the sun angle is above the mountains most of… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago
Reply to  Reality Check

RC, You are correct.I do know that solar panels are installed considering the sites latitude . This angle of inclination is benefical to efficency of the panel . While we can see charts such as this, broad overviews of regions, http://www.bigfrogmountain.com/SunHoursPerDay.html Los Angeles has average of 5.62 sun hours a… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

But try to find a site like the Manzanar site in L.A. And if you did, it would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate development — or more. LADWP already owns this piece of land.

BighornNV
BighornNV
8 years ago

Not only will the solar farm be highly visible, the construction and probable lack of mitigation will create a fugitive dust nightmare. The dust will cover artifacts, and will create health issues for the local community and be far reaching on windy days. Dust mitigation requires water or synthetic chemicals… Read more »

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago

I looked at a map, I think Manzanar committee is out of line here. This is not right next door to the historic site. If they want to oppose the plan, do so on a more logical basis, not some made up hysteria.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

Benett Kessler August 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm # Ken it’s 200 megawatts and one million panels. BK The second part of my question is how much would enough roof top installations in L.A. cost that would produce 200 MW. I figure that it would take between 200 and 300… Read more »

alg.smith
alg.smith
8 years ago

LADWP was proposing to construct elevated mounds and trenches on Owens Lake to control dust. What if the mounds were elevated islands surrounded by trenches filled with water and used to grow algae for fertilizer and cattle feed? In theory, the elevated islands and trenches filled with water would block… Read more »

Jay Wheaton
Jay Wheaton
8 years ago

Maybe they could put the installation on Owens Lake it would give them a reason to fix the dust problem at the same time.

kwak
kwak
8 years ago
Reply to  Jay Wheaton

The panels-on-the-lake proposal was already looked at; it turns out the parts of the lake stable enough to support the installation weren’t going to be useful for dust mitigation, and vice-versa. Here’s an article on more potential problems with benign-sounding solar projects: it could be very bad for the birds… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago

Honestly, I would vote no to almost anything DWP wants to do. They have done nothing to deserve my respect or support.

Waxlips
Waxlips
8 years ago

In 2006, the Legislature passed and Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which set the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal into law. It directed the California Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) to begin developing discrete early actions to reduce greenhouse gases while… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Waxlips

Many of you ask why LADWP chose to put their solar PV plant where they did? Why doesn’t someone ask them or look in available documentation for the siting criteria used? And here’s a thought. Since WWII was in part provoked by an oil blockade by the U.S and it’s… Read more »

John Barton
John Barton
8 years ago

Ken- I installed 28 rooftop panels on my roof in Bishop and hired a licensed local electrician to make the final connections into my SCE service panel. It is very simple. I produce more electricity than I consume which I “sell” back to SCE who in turn supply it to… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  John Barton

Ok, then the simple answer to my assuming that there would have to be upgrades to the infrastructure to integrate hundreds or thousands of rooftop installation is that there wouldn’t have to be upgrades to L.A.’s local grid. I wonder what SCE would say about that? Maybe someone should ask… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

I went to our local SCE office here in Mammoth and asked what they would have to do to the local grid if 1000 — 1000KW (1MW) rooftop installations came to Mammoth. The answer I got from the tech was, “…it depends…” Each and every installation would have to be… Read more »

To technical for your own good
To technical for your own good
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken , You are getting way to technical. First of all the solar power is not going to come on like a light switch. Yes there will be cloudy days and moving clouds affecting the grid. However that won’t be much different then turning on appliances. With the cost of… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

Sorry to confuse you with complicated ideas.

You are right. All we need to think about is the light switch and the outlet plugs. Anything more complicated than that makes peoples head hurt.

Just relax and turn on Opra.

John Barton
John Barton
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken- I get what you’re saying. 1MW isn’t that much power in the overall scheme of things. It’s all about the distribution capability of the lines to get the surplus power to areas of need. If another 1MW was produced locally, it would only mean more of the power produced… Read more »

salblaster
salblaster
8 years ago

solar power plants are going to increase in numbers over the decades to come, it’s a logical alternative to fossil fuel. probably every proposed plant will be opposed by some organization in the community it’s going in, however i think it it would be a good thing for o.v. even… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  salblaster

If you read the photo caption, provided by the Manzanar Committee to go with their Letter to the Editor, it’s a National Park Service photo.
Benett Kessler

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

This won’t even slightly resemble what is being built at Ivanpah, what exists today at Kramer Junction (the junction of US-395 and Hwy-58)or what was planned for eastern Inyo County. PV has a very low visual impact. A good example of what the DWP wants to build can be found… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

Hey DT , Elevation is 3936′ in Independence The Owens River is at 3740′ above sea level at the proposed development site. Not only does the highway overlook the site being 196 feet higher in elevation , but the slope of the site being east of the river is tilted/angled… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

At a distance of three to five miles there will be very little to see. I think the concerns are greatly over blown.

kwak
kwak
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

nothing much to see . . . unless you want to go visit the old railroad grade, or hike up the Pat Keys trail, or visit the big mines, or look down at the valley from anywhere in the mountains.

Reality Check
Reality Check
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

Kwak, so what’s your point. The solar panels will put your eye out?

Valkyrie
Valkyrie
8 years ago

Ah, the DWP! Always looking for ways to eliminate pesky vegetation in the Owens Valley. Let’s think about the number one economic driver for Inyo County – tourism. This proposed solar industrial site will be visible to recreationists that come to the Owens Valley for its famous and unique panoramas.… Read more »

Reality Check
Reality Check
8 years ago

Solar Power is good for the country and good for the environment. However, the NIMBYs would rather hade a fossil fuel plant or nuke plant in someone else’s backyard and enjoy the benefits of electrical power produced elsewhere, in their community.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

This is one of those hollow reasons for not building less damaging power generation facilities than coal or natural gas or nuclear generation facilities. “Don’t build it because we can see it”. Good grief! Use Google Maps and look at where the power plant will be in relation to Manzanar.… Read more »

kwak
kwak
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

You’re making a false dichotomy: the alternative to a solar plant in the Owens Valley is not coal, nuclear or natural gas. The alternatives are ubiquitous, obvious and well-documented: put the solar panels on the roofs of all those buildings in Los Angeles where the power needs are. From what… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  kwak

Putting solar panels on all buildings in L.A. sounds like a good idea. There may be a problem managing the power effectively to get it connected to the grid — not less infrastructure but more — which would not be replaced by rooftop solar. Because what are you going to… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

I will just point out that rooftop solar arrays can be hooked up to feed the grid.
BK

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Sure. That’s not the problem. Imagine trying to hook up hundreds of individually owned buildings in L.A. There would have to be a whole separate business entity to manage just that. Getting permissions. Dealing with all the “viewshed” issues.. Multiply LADWP’s project by a thousand and you might come close… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

I see what you’re saying, but keep in mind DWP has a program for residents and commercial users to install solar that becomes part of the grid and reduces the installers power bills.
BK

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Benett, I’m not saying one or the other. Maybe do both. Do everything possible to do. There’s never just one solution. Think if we had Brightsource under construction. The LADWP project and rooftop and small scale installations everywhere. If that was done all over the country that would be a… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

No one in the newsroom is saying no to the solar project. I was making a point about rooftop – home and commercial – installations. There is a whole environmental process to go through and more to learn on the project. We do see the value of solar generated power.… Read more »

Wake UP!
Wake UP!
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken , Get a clue dude. There is no big infrastructure that a utility needs to do to have buildings hooked up to the grid to place power made by solar or wind projects back on the grid. As long as the building is already serviced by the utility its… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Wake UP!

Take a look at the site on Google Maps. The project is not AT Manzanar. It’s 3-5 miles away from it. And you really think that if somehow most buildings in L.A. had solar panels, there would be nothing needed to be done to enable the local infrastructure? That it… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Wake UP!

I really don’t know the answer to your infrastructure concern.

Maybe Benett could find out. It’s an interesting question. Would existing infrastructure be able to handle a large number of small installations without modification??? Good question.

Mark
Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  Wake UP!

As long as roof top solar didn’t make a lot more power then the building uses there would be no reason to upgrade service feeding the building. I still think the Antelope Valley is a better place of solar. The infrustructure is already being put in place to support the… Read more »

JeremiahJoseph
JeremiahJoseph
8 years ago
Reply to  Wake UP!

I don’t know about Y’all, but if we were to put more energy producing equipment on top of energy flowing equipment, it seems you would have to upgrade the infrastructure to be compatible with the load it carries?? What I do know is we need to do something fast! too… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

KW, Here is a link to some roof top PV development. There are all types of clouds that cast a shadow.
http://www.edison.com/files/072710_news1.pdf

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

Great! The more the better. As I said — do everything. I wonder — what would be the cost of the Manzanar project; what would be it’s out put in MW? And how much would a bunch of rooftop projects cost that had equivalent MW output? Would the cost of… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Ken it’s 200 megawatts and one million panels.
BK

Go Solar
Go Solar
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

Ken, Boy you sometimes seem to be living under a rock. Have you not driven 395. Dude it’s mostly desolate , Nothing , for miles. DWP chooses to build there PV plant near a Historic site. 200 miles from where LA needs the power. Certainly DWP could find a different… Read more »

Steve
Steve
8 years ago
Reply to  kwak

This will never be done, it just makes too much common sense.