Supervisors’ solar vote delayed

Between Independence and Lone Pine - One of fourteen Renewable Energy Development Areas proposed throughout the County.

Between Independence and Lone Pine – One of fourteen Renewable Energy Development Areas proposed throughout the County.

As a petition against Inyo’s solar designation areas continues to gain signatures and public determination grows, the Inyo Supervisors agreed to delay their vote on the Planning Department’s proposal to establish 14 areas for large-scale solar or wind development.

Last month, almost half of more than 70 citizens in attendance stood up against the proposal at a Planning Commission meeting. Some grew so angry, Commissioners considered calling security. They did vote 4 to 1 to accept the proposal and send it to the Supervisors. At Tuesday’s Board meeting, Planning Director Josh Hart. who was also battered by citizens, stood up to say his Department now has a Frequently Asked Questions sheet on this hot topic. It will go on the Planning Department website at

Hart said this information would “set the record straight.” Hart said the General Plan is the County’s “Constitution.” He said there is a renewable energy part that needs an update since Inyo “expects to see considerable demand.” He described a planning process which led to the designation of renewable energy development areas. He said the 14 areas are “less than a half of a percent of Inyo land.”

Hart said his Department did “extensive public outreach” and that the process is very preliminary and in an early phase. He then suggested that the Supervisors delay their consideration of the renewable energy proposal until April 1st and instead hold a workshop next Tuesday to explain more about the plan.

Board Chairman Rick Pucci said he has heard from citizens who do want more time. Supervisors Linda Arcularius and Matt Kingsley commended the Planning Commission and Planning Department for “doing their best.” Kingsley said attacks on planning officials are “counter productive.” More next Tuesday.

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24 Responses to Supervisors’ solar vote delayed

  1. Yaney LA MacIver March 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    Hi Reality,

    Yes, you are correct there is a trailer park on family property, it is still owned and run by a relative. The trailer park has been there a good 60 years at least if not 75. The rest of the property up until the 70s was somewhat developed with a few houses, barns, chicken coops, and a horse pasture.

    Where the KFC and the office building are was sold early or in the 70s or late 60s by family as part of my great-grandmother’s estate. The other part of the property where the Vagabond and Denny’s are was leased by my grandmother in the mid to late 70s and remains held by her estate.

    My great grandmother is the one who was kicked off the McIver Ranch by the sale of that land to the DWP. The sale and its after effects ended her marriage to my great grandfather and her Skinner relatives bought the KFC, office building, and trailer park land for her from my Yaney ancestors. There has always been some sort of development at that end of Bishop. And the current development is in keeping with the character of what is there now.

    My opinion of what my ancestors would have done is what others of that time in the Owens Valley might have done. They were cooperating on irrigation systems, trying to expand their agriculture into markets in Nevada and the mining communities and even to LA. I think the valley would have continued in agriculture and ranching, hopefully small farms. There would have been tourism, fishing, hunting, but maybe not skiing as without his work for the DWP as a hydrologist Dave McCoy might not have found the perfect mountain for skiing. Mining is always iffy and plays out. That’s why my parents moved when I was five, my dad being a geologist, couldn’t find work any more in the valley.

    That being said all the land in the valley was stolen and degraded by the influx of the pioneers/settlers and especially cattle, my families’ are all implicit in this theft. The solar projects are just more of the theft of the land and water from the Paiute and Shoshone.

    Also would LA have grown in the way it did if they hadn’t acquired the Owens Valley? Would we be facing the climate crisis/possible extinction of humans we are in now if LA had developed more slowly and with its own water? Would Southern California have sprawled as much without Owens Valley water? Would we be pumping oil out of the tar sands, if we had developed transit systems that were more reasonable.

    At this point my view is that I am alive at this moment and intend to use whatever agency I have to not see the Owens Valley further degraded and returned to beneficial agricultural use with as much habitat protected as possible for the return of native species and protection of those that are threatened. I believe it is the only hope we have as humans of surviving in the valley.

    And I think the Owens Valley is uniquely poised with its relationship to LA to have a significant impact on turning the tide of the crisis. It is a new century. If LA can take real leadership in changing how it does things, the rest of the country will have a wonderful example to follow/learn from. I am happy to see that the Inyo County Supervisors are inviting LA and the DWP to a meeting. I hope it is the beginning of a grand conversation in which we will all participate.

    We need many more conversations before implementing any further changes because obviously we don’t have consensus and that is what we have been truly lacking for this past century and more. I hope many of you will come to the event at the Mountain Light Gallery on March 22, Solar Done Right, 5PM. I am coming down for it. Hope to see you there (

  2. Dan Strehlow March 12, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    Solar farms will not make or break Inyo County. It will still be a beautiful place. I would think the majority of the people, especially the liberals here, who push green energy down our throats, would welcome this type of development. But, surprise, they don’t. Never good enough for the tree jiggers. What happens when Lake Mead dries up?

    • Dan Strehlow March 12, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

      Tree huggers, not jiggers. Typo.

      • Dan Strehlow March 13, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

        These facilities could possibly be also be used as a tourist attraction. Or an interest to tourists. Along the lines of Hoover Dam. Enhance the economy. Get rid of the fishing economy that’s such a paradox. I’m all for the solar farms. Lots of things we could do to help and advance this area.

  3. Philip Anaya March 12, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    The importance of the decisions of 5 people here in Inyo County, Folks who go by the names of Rick, Jeff, Mark , Linda and Matt, Real People who serve us all, to the best of their abilties, deserve always our thanks and respect. They make themselves available, they seek, they want and need our participation in this endeavor to govern the Inyo. In the Inyo our Supes our Representitves take pride to know who we are, to know our names. Very special in our Land of the Free and no doubt direct from the County Seat, Independence, pot luck capital of the world .
    The future of the Inyo is to be determined in these next months when the result of our collective voices our collective snynergy and decisions of our Board of Supervisors are made. The General Plan Amendment for Renewable Energy probably a more understandable idea than the REGPA , should not be and will not be about any assumed need that Inyo County needs to become a Industrial Scale RE Solar Provider. Our local vocal Environmental Community is not going to allow that to happen quietly. This is all about whether Inyo County should consider a dramatic momentous change (words are insufficent) from being the Land of Spectacular Peaks and Vast Empty Valleys, a landscape worthy of forever, the Deepest Valley, so that our childrens childrens childrens can see it, as it is now, forever. If we don’t save it our children will never see it.
    Finding a path for the salvation of a Valley is sometimes gotta be about the rocks, the plants, birds and creatures ,Baxter Mountain and Wheeler Ridge Herds of Sierra Big Horns foraging for their existence , for the hearts and the souls of folks who are nutured and cared for by this harsh natural environment, we need places in this world that are empty of our “progress”, of our next technological advancement , of development for profit for profit’s sake. We need places in this world that define our relationship to our creation and we need landscapes that mirror the times of creation to discover that relationship . The landscapes of the Inyo are those places.
    Let’s have a General Plan Amendment for renewable energy in Inyo County. Lets encourage the development of PV renewable energy generation in projects that fit into our existing towns and local needs for sustainable existence with the empty lands of the Inyo . Let us honor Manzanar and the lessons learned by our incarceration and intolerence of a people who were different enough, powerless enough, to have their freedom and their liberties abridged . Lets get this General Plan Amendment right. Lets thank Josh Hart for coming to the BoS requesting this extension of public input that many requested . It is not easy to be a Stand up Guy to have the patience and tolerence of remaking his own decisions and his recognition for the need of a renewed opportunity for the public process into this vital quest for the best future for the Inyo. Lets go forward and cement some future and some existence of what we have what we might lose here in the Inyo.

  4. Vickie March 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    I have to agree with much of what Ken says. We’re not an island here in the eastern Sierra. We’re part of California and part of the west and we have a real energy problem. Hydro is greatly reduced these last 3 years thanks to the drought. In my opinion a vote against solar (and wind) is a vote for what? Natural gas? Fracking to get to that gas? Nuclear (sorry – San Onofre is closed forever), coal? Desecrate some place in the Appalachia so that the eastern Sierra can remain solar and wind free?
    Most of the people raising a fuss haven’t bothered to install solar themselves, yet they go on and on about rooftop solar being the answer. Really? Who’s to subsidize and maintain all those thousands of acres of rooftop solar? How long is THAT going to take to implement? And seriously, are the utility companies even going to support it? Rooftop solar advocates are proposing an overhaul of our entire energy system and is isn’t going to happen in any time frame that will help with the west’s power demands. Nice thought, completely impractical.
    We should be supporting thoughtful planning (which I believe the Planning Commission has attempted with NO help from the NIMBYs) for at the very least enough power generation to become net zero for power.
    You know how the saying goes…. If you aren’t a part of the solution you are part of the problem and I’m not hearing any reasonable solutions from the opposition.

    • Just Sayin March 13, 2014 at 5:26 am #

      You know how the saying goes…. If your not part of the solution your part of the problem, it goes both ways, if you’re for more exploitation of this Valley, well then I guess you’re part of the problem.

      • Just Sayin March 13, 2014 at 5:30 am #

        TypeO exploitation

  5. Yaney LA MacIver March 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm #


    So if I don’t want to date someone and I say no, am I supposed to come up with a “reasonable suggestion” for that person?

  6. Clint Hyde March 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    Please assure me that your organization receives no support, monetary or otherwise, from the Koch brothers or any of their many organizations. They are so protective of their billions of dollars in profits from oil that the are trying to make alternative sources such as solar power illegal. Some of your verbiage on your website and in your press release sounds just like the anti-science word smithing they use against climate change.

  7. Yaney LA MacIver March 12, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Benett, Do you know what the delayed vote date is?

    And Ken, a couple of engineers per site (after the construction is finished) making 64K to three figures. That’s maybe around 2.5 million for around 30 persons which is the figure most noted for permanent employees. I doubt most of that would trickle down to those of us who might be making sandwiches and selling trinkets to tourists. And it would probably raise the rents too. That’s why so many people seem to live in mobile home parks in and around Bishop, seems almost as much as where I currently reside with ten times the population at least. (Trying to find the stats on that.)

    Now as I’m looking at jobs in my beloved Owens Valley, I see there are better jobs than those you reference. Some are even in the 3K to 4K/mo. range which would afford one a decent place to live, pay the bills, and enjoy a night out at a nice restaurant (if they would just stay open!).

    And with the way technology curves, there will be better and less intrusive solar options available. I hear there’s even a window film application. “Let the sun shine in.”

    • Reality March 12, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

      I have to say that I find it extremely ironic and amusing that you mention trailer parks in your post. As I’m sure you are aware that is what is located on the land in your “beloved valley” that your ancestors didn’t sell to DWP. Along with a hotel, a couple of national chain restaurant’s and a small office building. Are we to assume that in your opinion your ancestors wouldn’t have developed the land Southeast of Independence that was sold to Los Angeles had they kept it?

  8. Ken Warner March 12, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    “the designation of renewable energy development areas. He said the 14 areas are “less than a half of a percent of Inyo land.”

    Do you understand how small ““less than a half of a percent” is? Do you care about the future of the East Side? Do you care about your future and your children’s futures?

    None of you reading this will ever work for in the field of renewable energy. But some people of Inyo and Mono counties will. The rest of will continue to make sandwiches and sell trinkets to the rich tourists..

    For those who choose an engineering career, endless green-energy applications and specialties exist, making engineering a top job for a broad range of people with various talents and interests. It’s a highly adaptable and customizable career path.

    It also pays nicely. Engineers pull in an average salary of $64,000, according to the web site Simply Hired. Depending on specialty, that number can be significantly higher. An engineer working on a wind farm can potentially pull in six figures.

    Please post numerous, scathing comments because I dare to try to help you make rational decisions.

    • Benett Kessler March 12, 2014 at 10:34 am #

      Your condescending tone does not make your message particularly desirable. I will note that the locations of the proposed Renewable Energy Development Areas are, in part, highly visible. Perhaps in all of the remote acres of Inyo, there might be better locations. Many people in the Owens Valley make a living other than selling sandwiches and trinkets, although that’s an honorable way to make a living too. Please come down from your dignified heights and join with your fellow citizens to find good answers. Benett Kessler

      • Ken Warner March 12, 2014 at 11:15 am #

        So far, the only “answer” has been NO! Sorry if you think realism is condescending. There doesn’t seem to be any joining with people who only can say NO! Not one single realistic suggestion has been posted that is a real option to any of the suggested locations.

        Less than one half of one percent! Roll that around in your head then go for a walk in the 99.5% of the Owens Valley that is untouched by renewable energy.

        The “viewshed” arguments are vapid and emotional. I give that kind of argument zero credibility given the destruction of the environment tourists cause. At the same time the viewshed people don’t seem to see or care about the damage the tourists do and in fact want even more tourists to come to the valley so they can sell more stuff to them. How is exploitation of the very land they claim to “love” honorable?

        The Owens Valley has not been pristine for decades and yet people still see it that way. Maybe they should take their head out of the sand.

        • Benett Kessler March 12, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

          Realism is not condescending, but your words are. People have legitimate views and wants about the solar planning. If the public does not want visible, 1200 acre, one million solar panel arrays, why not see if there are less conspicuous locations? Do we need to designate 1,000 square miles for industrial solar or wind? I am told that the planning also points to the foothills of the Sierra for wind generators. Discussion of the issues is worth it now before actual development occurs. We’re all different and we have different perceptions. I think I do understand your view, but it’s very difficult for Inyo and Mono to live on anything but tourism with what LA has left us and federal land ownership too. Benett Kessler

          • Ken Warner March 12, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

            I was just looking through:

            ORDINANCE NO. 1158:
            “The County of Inyo (“County”) supports and encouragesresponsible utilization of its natural resources, including the development of its solar and wind resources”

            Which was adopted unanimously by the Inyo BOS. It suggests that:

            21.08.080 Pilot or proof of concept powerplant

            A pilot or proof of concept powerplant is a powerplant with a capacity of five megawatts or less that is designed and constructed to test the feasibility of constructing and operating larger capacity facilities.

            Instead of everybody getting upset about something they’ve never seen, why not build a pilot project and then make a determination?

            Further, just because 1000 square miles is zoned for such projects doesn’t mean 1000 square miles of valley floor will be used. That’s just you taking the opportunity to be inflammatory.

            You are right that reasonable, objective discussion is needed. Just like I’ve said over and over. Maybe you and others are finally getting the message.

          • Benett Kessler March 12, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

            You were doing so well there at the beginning of your comment, and then you felt the pull of ego and just had to accuse me of being inflammatory and patronized all of us with “maybe we’re finally getting the message.” Please, Ken. Others see things differently from you, and that doesn’t make them wrong. Your lack of respect and consideration of others is most unattractive. I respect your different and very worthy views, just not your unkind delivery. Benett

          • Ken Warner March 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

            After all the demining, juvenile, mean spirited and personal attacks by your drones that you seem to love to print — I’m supposed to care about your clutch the pearls moment?

            “Your lack of respect and consideration of others is most unattractive”

            As are your personal attacks on me and others. You have a very high opinion of yourself. Not necessarily shared…

          • Benett Kessler March 12, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

            I don’t wear pearls. Complaints about elected officials, if factual, can go farther than those about individuals. I try to keep people from hurting each other. It’s not an easy job, but I signed up for it!
            Benett Kessler

        • erik simpson March 12, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

          Ken, I guess I’m being vapid and emotional, and I acknowledge zero credibility, but I have to wonder: what do you LIKE about the east side?

    • Just Sayin March 13, 2014 at 4:56 am #

      Vickie, Ken, and anyone else, I hear you loud and clear. Just asking, did anyone ask me or anyone else if it was ok to turn large areas of California desert land into water sucking peoduice farms that required depleting ground water to the point of collapsing the San Joaquin Valley? No. Did anyone ask me or anyone else if it was ok to allow the city of Los Angeles to build beyond their means? No. But it’s happened. Now, they (they meaning the cities) want the Owens Valley land and views too. Why should I give up my “Beloved Owens Valley” for these cities and their need to exploit the land? It’s bad enough they take our water and leave us with little. I don’t want to support their growth. I don’t want solar and wind farms in around my home town, the Owens Valley. None of the solar or wind energy it produces or it’s profits will stay in the Valley, and when it’s obsolete, then what? Please give me a good reason why I should want this. I see it as the beginning of the end for Owens Valley tourism, the visual blight of solar and wind farms can’t make it better. There will be death and displacement of wildlife and their habitat. The spectacular views marred by industrial solar and wind farms, new roads, new towers, new lines, new buildings, and for what? The cities far south of here?

      Solar technology will become obsolete, and currently none is made in the US. Wind energy is even more of a visual blight, not to mention the killing of birds. Did you know wind farms are allowed take out permits for the legal killing of eagles? They are fighting to make them 30 year permits! How bold man is to think this planet is all for him.

      I may not be a very good writer but will try to get my point across on this issue. Keep the city in the city, it doesn’t belong in the Owens Valley, we are towns here, small towns, that’s the way we like it, we love our spatular views, our open and uncluttered land, and it’s history, that’s why we live here. If you don’t, well I guess… you can move.

  9. Vickie March 12, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    My sympathies go out to Josh Hart and the others in the Planning Commission with the unenviable job of writing this policy. I know that it is at least the second time around for attempting to craft a reasonable solar energy development map – which the county needs.


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