At a meeting in Los Angeles Saturday, Japanese-Americans and Owens Valley people expressed their views on Department of Water and Power’s plans to build a mega-solar plant across from the Manzanar Historic Site in the Owens Valley. According to local people at the meeting, DWP also extended the public comment period, for the second time, through November 26th.
Les Inafuku, Superintendent of Manzanar, had asked for a meeting in Los Angeles to accommodate the southland Japanese-American community. The meeting was held at DWP headquarters and saw some 75 people attend, including DWP General Manager Ron Nichols. People there said Nichols made an opening statement about DWP’s need to develop renewable energy but did not respond to the many objections to the project.
According to locals in attendance, 29 people spoke and all opposed the project. These included grandchildren of Manzanar internees and former internees themselves, human rights organizations and locals such as Mike Prather who spoke against a project of the proposed scale in the Owens Valley. Assistant Professor Barry Lehrman of Cal Poly spoke. He and his students have organized a project to detail the need for an equal relationship between DWP and Inyo-Mono.
The Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Project would unfold on 1200 acres southeast of Independence, across from the Manzanar Historic Site and east of the Owens River. DWP plans to build the one million solar-paneled, 200 megawatt project next year.
Inyo County has lodged numerous complaints in their comments on the project, including dust pollution, visual impacts, lack of a reclamation plan, failure to consider the Long-Term Water Agreement regarding two new wells, failure to comply with the Inyo General Plan, housing impacts and impacts to the Lower Owens River. The County’s comments are available at inyoplanning.org, and DWP’s Draft EIR can be seen at all County libraries and at ladwp.com.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Luskin Center for Innovation at UCLA released a study that advocates installation of solar panels on 5% of available rooftops in LA County. Their study says this would create 29,000 new jobs and reduce carbon emissions. They call it the “solar atlas” and a guide to planning where to expand renewable energy.
Send comments on the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Project to:
Ms. Nadia Parker
Environmental Planning and Assessment
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
111 North Hope Street, Room 1044
Los Angeles, California 90012