Will public opinion affect Inyo’s Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment?

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.

Bureaucratic processes sometimes leave out the voice of the people. In the case of the Inyo County Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment, citizens

Inyo Planning Director Josh Hart

Inyo Planning Director Josh Hart

have insisted they be heard. But will the changes they want actually take place? Next Tuesday, April 1st, the Inyo Supervisors will offer their comments on the Plan Amendment which is also the project description.

According to Planning Director Josh Hart, the Supervisors will not vote on the General Plan Amendment. He said they will provide comments on it. Then, planners will refine the Amendment which serves as the environmental project description. Hart said there will be many more public meetings as part of the CEQA process; but he did admit that the farther down the line the project goes, the more difficult it is to make significant changes.

Vice President of the Owens Valley Committee, Daniel Pritchett seemed to agree that now is the time to make changes when he said, “April 1st is a crucial time because it is when the contents of the final document will be decided, de facto. If the Board of Supervisors directs the staff,” he said, “to use the existing General Plan Amendment even with modifications as the basis for the Programmatic EIR, we know in advance the final document they will formally rubber stamp will be a disaster.”

The Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment spells out 14 industrial-sized solar development areas in the County. Hart said it’s very doable to take some of those away or change them. The 358-page staff report on this issue includes a list of 16 alternatives on how to proceed. Planners recommend continuing with the General Plan Amendment they have prepared. Public petitions with more than 1,000 signatures ask the Supervisors to reject that General Plan Amendment.

Will the Supervisors do that? Board Chairman Rick Pucci said, “The Board of Supervisors will give Josh some consensus of where to go if anywhere.” Pucci said the Board will not “adopt” the Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment but will comment on what it should look like. Will the substantial public outcry against the Amendment have an effect on the Board? Pucci said, “Absolutely. The public comments have been very helpful to me.”

Asked what his specific recommendations will be, Chairman Pucci said he does not know yet. He’s considering many suggestions.

In addition to moving ahead with the Draft Plan Amendment, the Planning Staff Report also recommends renewable energy development on BLM Areas and other bureaucratically designated areas. The staff recommends both small-scale and distributed generation facilities. The staff does not recommend ceasing the current process, does not recommend the use of intensive or less intensive alternatives, and does not recommend changing the megawatts allowed in each proposed Renewable Energy Development Area. The staff also does not recommend only allowing small-scale renewable energy projects for private on-site use.

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15 Responses to Will public opinion affect Inyo’s Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment?

  1. Eastern Sierra local March 29, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    I support the solar plan whole heartily. What’s also a shame is the lack of reporting on those who actually support solar development in inyo county. There’s quite a few people calling there supervisors voicing support.

    • Russ Monroe March 30, 2014 at 10:05 am #

      ESL; You do not support anything pseudonym, even your own stated bigotry. You repeatedly pontificate your ignorance here, but you do so failing to justify a word of it with logic or fact.
      The supervisors do have to take responsibility for their actions.
      Voting to endorse this plan they have to publicly ignore many proven facts. Such as:
      DWP and Edison both have move intermittent source input than they can balance in the grid already. The existing lines are full. Fulfillment of this plan will not bring in any more revenue to the county and will severely damage the two largest revenue sources in Southern Inyo. I have been involved in this process for many years and have yet to hear a single logical justification for this plan. Oh the mandates! Well, DC and Sacramento can mandate the parting of the Pacific for a land bridge to Hawaii, but the technology still will not exist to make that happen. The president can mandate the sun to shine 24/7 but the earth will still rotate, and as long as you do not have to take responsibility for the excrement that you type, you are just going keep typing aren’t you?

  2. Eastern Sierra Local March 29, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    What’s funny about this whole thing is that the renewable energy part of the General Plan is required by the State under SB 375 and AB 32. I’m pretty sure that the same people who voted for Obama, Jerry Brown, and the majority of Democrats in the State House are the ones in deep opposition to the current solar plans in the Owens Valley. In fact, the Vice President of the Owens Valley Committee drives a Prius with an “Obama Change” sticker on it. This is what happens when you vote for a “progressive” agenda of “Green Energy.”

    • Nancy Bright Masters March 29, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      As a lifelong Republican and a board member on the Owens Valley Committee, I take strong exception to your characterization of environmentalists as consisting of only liberal Democrats. The Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln was also the party of Theodore Roosevelt who supported the newly-formed conservation movement and the expansion of the nation’s first protected lands, the National Parks. One of the tenets of true conservatism is personal liberty coupled with responsibility. Engaging with nature in wilderness and untrammeled open space is the ultimate personal liberty, challenging both physical capability and mental preconceptions about the human condition and our place in the world. From that humbling comes an awareness of our responsibility to nature.
      Environmentalism is NOT right or left-wing; it is common sense. We all live here on this small globe in a vast universe, and it is our obligation to protect the earth and our fellow residents – other eukaryotes, bacteria and archaea – even if just from pure self-interest. As the dominant animal species, we humans certainly have the power to destroy much of this wonderful planet. The question is; do we have the intelligence to comprehend our power, and thus constrain our wants for the benefit of all?

      • Eastern Sierra Local March 29, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

        And that is the EXACT reason why I SUPPORT solar development in Owens Valley; un-used land going to waste not creating solar power-what a shame!

    • JeremiahJoseph April 1, 2014 at 9:15 am #

      What a cheap shot Eastern Sierra Local! if your going to call out names like that, you should identify yourself and own what you say! Not hide behind some pin name..
      Please don’t act like the republicans and democrats listen to the people, they listen to the donors and lobbyist’s that sponser bills and legislation…
      Your attack on a local advocate is as cheap as it comes…

      Oh and ever notice that the conservative stance on most issues are on the wrong side of history and in time people will come around and think for themselves and let go of the outdated beliefs…

  3. April Zrelak March 29, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    The Supervisors are our elected officials. Josh Hart is only an employee who is a department director. This is supposed to be participatory government, wherein our representatives work for us. Keep this in mind and in the minds of the elected officials when addressing concerns. Citizens pay the bills and our voices in policy are important. There are (and need to be) checks on majority decisions that violate civil rights, health and welfare, environmental degradation and other protective policies. This is not one of those issues. The REGPA is supposed to be designed with policies that the people of Inyo County want; going above and beyond the legal requirements and jurisdictional authorities.

    I continually hear the argument that (paraphrasing) “we have no jurisdiction therefore should just shut up”. There would never be any advances in society if everyone took that attitude. Policy provides the opportunity to make a statement about Inyo County direction. By designing the areas of “opportunity” and using the words “Inyo County encourages…” the REGPA invites development into those areas. Whether LADWP or BLM can effectively override Inyo County policy is a completely separate issue. I believe we lose any potential legal standing to fight against a single construction proposal once we have invited development.

    In fact, Josh Hart has written response to the comments regarding LORP and the inclusive Owens Valley Land Management Plan by stating that Inyo County believes those documents do not exclude utility-scale energy development. Well, they do not specifically exclude prisons, theme parks, WalMarts, nuclear disposal sites either. However, ALL (including utility-scale energy development) would be in violation of these legally approved conservation areas (yes, LADWP calls the OVLMP a conservation area). This plan clearly spells out the intention and acceptable uses of the entire area. As an MOU party to the LORP, Inyo County cannot unilaterally make this decision. But, by including it in language in the REGPA it could very well be giving up the legal leverage it has for any future argument against development of any kind inside these boundaries. Why do that?

    Most people attending meetings and writing letters have expressed the desire to have a renewable energy amendment to the General Plan. This one is the Planning Department’s design. The Planning Commission voted to remove Centennial Flat/Darwin REDA. The Board of Supervisors asked to remove the Owens Valley REDA (at least for some future discussion with ALL stakeholders). A map of what the Less Intensive option with those 2 REDAs removed is in the Board packet for next Tuesday. This should be our starting point! For those who are making statements about approval of the REGPA, I would hope that they are actually reading the material. Otherwise, their opinions are not based on facts.

    If our representatives are merely giving advice and not clear direction, we should all be alarmed that a Planning Department Director is making policy for us. There is something wrong with this scenario. We have seen how Planning ignored the desires of the public and the Planning Commission. Why think more “input” will be incorporated?

  4. Philip Anaya March 28, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

    With an undying love of the Inyo, voices will be heard . With a never ending effort, voices will be heard . The future of the Inyo is at stake . Our voices must be heard and our leaders should hear our words now . They will only grow louder and stronger if they are not able to hear them clearly . The inclusion of our words, our concerns , need to be foremost in this REGPA process . The Industrial Solar Industry ,their money, their greed , their solar lobby, their laws, their transmission lines, their violations of these lands, need to find another place in the sun. Our REGPA should be about the needs of the Inyo, the haven for the spirit of the earth that resides here today and forever . The voice of the spirit of the Inyo will be heard and it will sing forever in the wind and the waters . Thats what will be heard next Tuesday in Independence

    • Desert Tortoise March 31, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

      “The voice of the spirit”? Lol. No, attorneys and legislators will be heard

  5. The Aggressive Progressive March 28, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    The Leaders and decision makers of Inyo county have not seen this kind of constituent pressure.. They must show appreciation to the public comment’s and VALID concerns, in the same light they appreciate the votes that enable them to fill the supervisor seat. True democratic leaders will represent the entire constituency, not just those in their social circles or the ones that voted for them.

    Tuesday we will have the chance to see if the People’s courageous statements, efforts and research will have a effect on the county leaders perception..

    To Leaders:
    The best and most efficient renewable energy is produced at the point of consumption, we see how the Owens Valley has been and still is exploited for the city of LA/State of California.. Yes we need to develop new norms that align with the natural order of laws, but this SOVSR approach and what is cost effective to the established powers is counter productive to the outcome generations after us need to see… Besides all the environmental injustices, social injustices to tribal communities, bullying tactics and documents dissected by lawyers, no leader of this county should submit to any further degradation..a precedent will be set either way.

    The unity and collaboration by those who oppose this, perpetually give a piece of themselves to express and educate one another, is a prime example that the power is within the people when acting in a organized fashion.
    On Tuesday the citizens of Inyo will see if the democratic structure is at play, or if preconceived conclusions will overrule the will of the people..

    It’s “we the people”, not “we the few” or “we the elected leaders”, the people should always have their best interest above any other incentive that only a few will see!

    Good Job and thanks to the Owens Valley Committee, Manzanar Committee, metabolic studio and all the groups and individuals that show us how to take a stand in a rational intellectual fashion..

    • Desert Tortoise March 28, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

      You do realize that on BLM land the County has absolutely no authority to restrict or cancel a project? The best the county can do is come up with a planning document that the BLM and County can both agree on, along with the solar project sponsors, in exchange for the county’s support on the DEIR. That is the only leverage the County has to get concessions favorable to local residents. If the County refuses to be part of the process or tries to oppose the DEIR, the BLM can go forward without the county and do as they please, which might be something even less amenable to the County’s needs. The County has very little leverage aside from coming up with a planning document favorable to the County in exchange for their support with the DEIR.

      • Inyoite March 29, 2014 at 9:27 am #

        That is not totally true about BLM lands in Inyo County. Projects cannot go forward without considering the DRECP (Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan). That plan is an attempt to control where these big “renewable energy” projects are placed: http://www.drecp.org/
        The DRECP includes BLM lands. Many of us who care about these wild spaces have already contacted the folks working on the DRECP to express our concerns about Inyo County. The DRECP map covers most of the REDAS (Renewable Energy Development Areas) in Inyo’s draft REGPA (Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment). We are not powerless to affect this plan or Inyo’s plan.

        • Desert Tortoise March 31, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

          DRECP is a Federal document. What comes out of that process is the law on Federal land and the best the BoS can do is influence it. There is no veto power for counties. The county is offering a planning process to make the outcome of the DRECP more palatable to the residents of the county. If the county refuses to participate, then the BLM will move forward without them and whatever results will not have any input from the county. BLM has a mandate to make these projects happen and counties at best can use their influence to leverage the least objectionable outcome in exchange for supporting the BLM and the project developer on their DEIR. Outright rejection of a project by a county government, however, is not legally possible.

  6. mongo March 28, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    Was the article on Independence courthouse move without public input deleted?
    I cant seem to find it.

    • Benett Kessler March 28, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

      Not sure which story you mean. I need more info.


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