Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project

Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project Rejected by California Public Utilities Commission

May 21, 2015 - The Southern California Edison (SCE) large transmission project that could have cost as much as $1 billion to construct was denied by the CPUC in a unanimous decision, saying "The Commission’s dismissal is without prejudice, which means that SCE may refile the application if future studies of the transmission system show the project to be needed."

Activists in the Victor Valley, Barstow area and Morongo Valley area, and organizations such as Alliance for Desert Progress, Lucerne Valley Economic Development Agency, and MC3 celebrated this final decision. It would mean SCE would have to start all over again with a brand new application if it sought to build this line.

We recall how the Mojave Desert Blog caught early on how this transmission project's reason for being was coming into question in March of this year: "The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) - the organization responsible for managing the state's transmission grid - reported that SCE's proposed Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project is no longer necessary to bring all of the Mojave Solar project's energy to the grid. SCE had argued that it could not deliver energy from Abengoa's Mojave Solar on existing transmission lines because those lines were already in use by other power plants. A new 75 mile transmission line would be needed to connect the project to the grid, according to SCE, a portion of which would be built outside of existing transmission corridors.

"However, the CAISO's submission to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) undercuts SCE's case for building the new transmission line. SCE needs CPUC's approval in order to pass along costs to build the new line to ratepayers. CAISO argues that the retirement of other power plants in the region have freed up enough capacity on transmission lines to fully deliver the energy generated by the Mojave Solar project." -- Quote from Mojave Desert Blog.

See the Victor Valley Daily Press.

Write the Public Utilities Commission to Stop the Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project

December 29, 2014 - ​The Mojave Communities Conservation Collaborative (MC-3) is reaching out to ask for your participation. During the next week, MC-3 asks you to please make time to write a personal letter regarding the pending application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for a Certificate of Public Convenience Necessity (CPCN) for Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Coolwater Lugo Transmission Project. As a result of the recent announcement by NRG of the retirement of their Coolwater Generating facility (with a capacity 636 megawatts that now will no longer be using SCE’s transmission grid) the California Public Utility Commission is requiring SCE to clarify the need for their Coolwater Lugo Transmission Project. Their response is due by January 8, 2014.

This is the perfect opportunity for our Desert Communities to​join our voices together to let the CPUC, the Bureau of Land Management, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, our Congressmen, and our Governor know that we do not want the SCE Coolwater Lugo Project coming to our Desert. This project,​with it's 165 acre substation, would​impose huge industrial scale renewable energy projects​in the rural community that will negatively impact our Desert economically, socially, and environmentally.


Addresses to each and every one of the county and​state representatives, as well as BLM and CPUC contacts,​ can be found on MojaveC3.org.​ ​​


http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/dec/18/desert-renewable-energy-plan/

http://www.sbsun.com/opinion/20141215/photovoltaic-solar-power-the-better-alternative-thomas-elias

North Peak Wind Project Proposal Withdrawn

October 26, 2014 - Apple Valley. E.ON Climate and Renewables has withdrawn its application to develop the North Peak Wind Project, according to the Bureau of Land Management. The controversial proposal would have placed 71 wind turbines, each as tall as 500 feet, atop ecologically sensitive ridgelines in the Juniper Flats Recreation Area. The 10,433-acre project would have stretched from Lucerne Valley to Apple Valley along north-facing ridges of the High Mojave Desert and San Bernardino Mountains. Katrina Symons, Barstow field manager for the Bureau of Land Management, announced the withdrawal on October 24.

“This is great news,” said Rich Ravana, president of the Alliance for Desert Preservation. “North Peak would have been disastrous for the animals, birds, and plants of Juniper Flats and would have disrupted the lives of thousands of High Desert visitors. It would have been a blight on a beautiful desert-mountain landscape, and would have posed serious fire danger.

“But we still need to take the next step. Juniper Flats has to gain National Conservation Land status. Without that, another developer could swoop in with a project as bad as or worse than North Peak.”

The Alliance for Desert Preservation launched a campaign in May to halt the North Peak Wind Project, as well as the Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project, which is still under consideration. The Alliance collected more than 13,000 petition signatures opposing each project, created an informative website at www.noonwindmills.com, and reached out to local communities and public officials to harness a groundswell of opposition to industrial-scale energy projects targeting the High Desert.

The effort to permanently preserve Juniper Flats is the Alliance’s latest campaign. In the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), much of Juniper Flats was designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) in the plan’s preferred alternative. The DRECP noted the endangered species, wildlife corridors, and American Indian cultural sites in Juniper Flats.

But, noted Ravana, “Juniper Flats will always attract big energy developers who know how to find their way around BLM labels like ACEC. We need the BLM to designate Juniper Flats as National Conservation Land. That’s the agency’s strongest level of protection. That way it will remain just as it is for recreational visitors who can continue to enjoy hiking, birding, rock climbing, and off-highway travel. We won’t rest until that happens.”

The Alliance for Desert Preservation’s online petition to preserve Juniper Flats is at www.noonwindmills.com.

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The Alliance for Desert Preservation is a nonprofit mutual-benefit corporation formed to protect the environmental and economic well-being of the High Mojave Desert and to support a sustainable future, while safeguarding against activities that may harm the High Mojave Desert.

Preserve Juniper Flats Campaign

PRESERVE JUNIPER FLATS IS NEWEST CAMPAIGN FROM ALLIANCE FOR DESERT PRESERVATION

October 16, 2014 - San Berbardino County CA - Petition drive seeks National Conservation Land status for High Desert ridgelines bordering San Bernardino National Forest.

The Alliance for Desert Preservation has announced a campaign to secure National Conservation Land status for Juniper Flats, a 100,000-acre area managed by the Bureau of Land Management, stretching along High Desert ridgelines from Lucerne Valley to Apple Valley, California. National Conservation Land status would effectively prohibit all future development in Juniper Flats, while allowing for traditional uses such as hiking and off-highway driving.

Under the preferred alternative in the recently released draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), Juniper Flats was designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).

“Juniper Flats is an extraordinarily beautiful, fragile, and ecologically abundant landscape,” said Rich Ravana, president of the Alliance for Desert Preservation. “The DRECP agencies recognized this by naming it an ACEC. But big energy companies are proven experts in doing end-runs around BLM labels like ACEC. Juniper Flats needs and merits the much stronger level of protection that National Conservation Land status would give it.”

Added Ravana, “We want to keep Juniper Flats exactly as it is—untouched, but accessible to everyone who loves it and enjoys it.”

The Alliance for Desert Preservation launched its Preserve Juniper Flats campaign with a petition drive. In just two weekends in the High Desert, volunteers have already secured nearly 2,000 signatures urging the BLM to give National Conservation Land status to the area. The petition is also online at http://noonwindmills.com/sign-petition.

According to the BLM, “National Conservation Lands are part of an active, vibrant landscape where people live, work, and play. They offer exceptional opportunities for recreation, solitude, wildlife viewing, exploring history, scientific research, and a wide range of traditional uses.”

“That perfectly describes Juniper Flats,” said Ravana. “It’s virtually adjacent to four desert communities. Residents and visitors come to hike, watch birds, drive off-highway, rock climb, and enjoy beauty and solitude. It’s exactly the kind of special place that deserves National Conservation Land status.”

Juniper Flats is home to more than 50 endangered and threatened species and species of special concern, as well as a number of carbonate-endemic plants that grow nowhere else in the world. It contains American Indian cultural sites, a range of vegetation from creosote and Joshua trees to piñon-juniper woodlands, and springs and seeps that are critically important to wildlife.

“It’s a thrill to see golden eagles soaring over these ridgelines,” said Ravana. “And in winter, bald eagles use them to move among wintering sites in the San Bernardinos. Plus Juniper Flats is home to endangered bird species like the southwestern willow flycatcher and the least Bell’s vireo—and it’s a critical wildlife corridor for bighorn sheep, mule deer, and mountain lions traveling between the San Bernardino and Granite Mountains. These are all incredibly sensitive species that could be lost from this area if industrial development were ever allowed to occur. This is why we so strongly feel that it must be named a National Conservation Land.”

Contact: John Zemanek
310-874-9226
jzemanek@desertpreservation.com

For more information, visit www.noonwindmills.com.

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The Alliance for Desert Preservation is a nonprofit mutual-benefit corporation formed to protect the environmental and economic well-being of the High Mojave Desert and to support a sustainable future, while safeguarding against activities that may harm the High Mojave Desert.

Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project Meetings

August 10, 2014 - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has scheduled four public scoping meetings for the proposed Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project. These meeting are supposed to be set up to allow the public to provide input over the pending impacts a large project like this project will have. Please remember to submit a WRITTEN comment because the BLM’s California Desert District will not record spoken comments at public meetings. The transmission line will open up energy sprawl to the Mojave Desert and rural communities in Lucerne, Johnson and Apple Valleys, San Bernardino County, California.

http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/barstow/renewableenergy/coolwater_lugo.print.html

North Peak Wind Project

July 24, 2014 0 A massive wind project is proposed for San Bernardino County on 16.4 square miles of mountain ridges overlooking much of the Victor Valley, on Bureau of Land Management land. This is an example of the type of ill-placed renewable energy project that would be linked to the proposed Coolwater-Lugo Transmission project.

San Bernardino County Supervisors James Ramos and Robert A. Lovingood sent a joint letter to the Bureau of Land Management strongly opposing the North Peak Wind Project. They cited the anticipated harm to property values, viewsheds, Native American cultural resources, interference with radar tracking of aircraft as well as environmental concerns. The anticipated impacts on plants and animals are devastating, including the regular and continuous killing of bald eagles, golden eagles, bats and numerous migratory bird species that use the avian corridor along the ridgelines in question.


The project is planned for mountain ridges overlooking Lucerne Valley, Apple Valley and Hesperia.


"San Bernardino County has already borne the brunt of renewable energy projects," Lovingood said. "For a wide variety of reasons, this is the wrong location for this project, and I urge the BLM to reject the North Peak Wind Project."


"Due to the damaging impact the North Peak Wind project would cause for the community, their property values and overall quality of life, I am opposing the development of this project," Ramos stated. "San Bernardino County has made great strides to become a leader in renewable energy projects. However, this project would have significant, detrimental effects to the environment and cultural resources that exist in this area. I ask that the BLM take these issues under consideration and reject this project."


The letter from Lovingood and Ramos notes that while the project is on federal land, San Bernardino County retains authority over local roads, including necessary widening of roads for construction crews to access the project site. This brings up the type of conflict that will probably make the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) drag out into a long battle: counties and local stakeholders are not always going to agree with state and federal agencies on carving up the desert for energy production.

Here is an old flyer showing the associated Lugo-Pisgah Transmission Corridor, which will be used by the more current Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project is built:

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