March 5, 2015 - Independence CA - The Inyo County Planning Commission voted 5-0 in favor of a recommendation on the Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA) on March 4, to the applause of many in the room. The Commission recommended limiting solar development in Inyo County to projects less than 20 MW. The Commission also recommended reducing the Solar Energy Development Areas (SEDAs), eliminating Charleston View SEDA and Chicago Valley SEDA completely, and reducing Rose Valley SEDA, Pearsonville SEDA, and Owens Lake SEDA significantly in size. The Inyo County Board of Supervisors will vote on the Planning Commission’s REGPA recommendations on March 24th in Independence, CA.
See the press release by Patrick Donnelly, Executive Director of Amargosa Conservancy, who attended the meeting.
November 8, 2014 - PUBLIC NOTICE: Notice of Completion (NOC) and Availability – DRAFT Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) - General Plan Amendment 2013-02/Inyo County Renewable Energy
The County is proposing to amend its General Plan to include policies for solar energy development within the County. The proposed Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA) involves identifying new and modified General Plan goals, policies, and implementation measures, including provisions for areas that may be appropriate for renewable energy development.
The 45-day comment period for the public to comment on the DRAFT PEIR prepared for General Plan Amendment 2013-02 is scheduled to begin November 5, 2014, and end on December 19, 2014.
Three (3) public meetings for General Plan Amendment 2013-02 have been scheduled for:
December 2, 5:30-7:00 – Bishop City Hall Council Chambers
301 West Line Street, Bishop 93514
December 3, 5:00 – 6:30 – Statham Hall, Lone Pine
138 Jackson Street, Lone Pine 93545
December 4, 5:00-6:30 – Tecopa Community Center
405 Tecopa Hot Springs Road, Tecopa 92389
Watch This Video on The Owens Valley Solar Story
April 26, 2014 - The YouTube video "Saving Payahüüpü: The Owens Valley Solar Story" was published on Apr 25, 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTV9Pd6AaNk&feature=youtu.be
"Saving Payahüüpü: The Owens Valley Solar Story" explores the land, people, history, and future of the Owens Valley as its community members work to build broad-based grassroots support at home and in Los Angeles to protect the natural, historic, and cultural resources of their valley.
"Saving Payahüüpü" focuses on the ways in which a 1200 acre industrial scale solar energy development project currently being proposed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power would cause severe and irreparable harm to Paiute cultural sites and to the integrity of the Manzanar National Historic Site located in the Owens Valley.
For more information visit:
Owens Valley Committee
Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation
Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley
Visit to Manzanar National Historic Site and the Nearby Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Solar Project Proposal
January 2, 2014 - In December 2013 members of B&RW visited the Owens Valley to ground check the proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch proposal and record potential impacts to the views of the area and Manzanar National Historic Site nearby >>here.
Visit to the Northland Power Independence Solar Project
November 22, 2013 - We visited the souther Owens Valley and Mazourka Canyon to see the character of the wildlands around this solar project proposal >>here.
November 22, 2013 - This comment letter was forwarded for attention to garner comments from people concerned about development in the Owens Valley:
Desert Peaks Section of the Sierra Club
Date: Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 9:45 AM
Subject: DPS - Owens Valley Solar development
The DPS Management Committee is forwarding this letter from Wynne Benti:
I am writing to ask you to write a letter to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power opposing its Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch its current location within the viewshed of Mount Whitney and the eastern scarp of the Sierra Nevada, the Inyo Mountains and Manzanar National Historic Site.
On Nov. 16, I attended a public hearing held at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Hope Street headquarters, on the 200-megawatt Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch, an installation of 1 to 2 million individual solar panels on 1200 acres, approximately the size of the City of Bishop (or the City of West Hollywood). 29 people testified, representing the National Park Service, several Southern California branches of the Japanese American Citizens League, the Manzanar Committee, representatives from the Fort Independence and Big Pine Paiute Bands, residents of Independence and the Owens Valley. No public comments were made in favor of the project.
Solar is good, just not this solar project in this particular location.
In 2010, the LADWP issued a Notice of Preparation on Oct 1, 2010 that discussed two sites in Southern Owens Valley (not the current site) with one scoping meeting in Lone Pine on Oct 28, 2010. The DEIR (Draft Environmental Impact Report) released on September 4, 2013 and included a completely new location, never before discussed. Many of the original public comments were site specific. CEQA requires that the Notice of Prep and EIR should have a precise site location. In addition the public was only given two months to comment (from Sept. 4 until Nov 4, 2013, just extended to Nov. 26).
A two month review period provides little time for scientists to study the new location, located only a half-mile east of the Owens River with its Southern boundary on Manzanar Reward Road, beneath the Inyo Mountains, Winnedumah Monument and Mount Inyo. The Owens River is a important water resource for native wildlife and migratory birds. To the horizon, the 360-degree vista is free of buildings, towns and tall towers. Existing transmission lines are a key feature in making the site attractive to developers and power resellers. 95% of the power created here will be transmitted to Los Angeles.
The DEIR states that the proposed project would not have a substantial adverse effect on a scenic vista, that the impact would be less than significant and that no mitigation is required. This statement by the LADWP is not true.
This is a big project that will industrialize the western landscape of the Owens Valley, which the LADWP has kept free of development for almost a century. The highly reflective solar panels will be visible from mountain summits along the Eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada from Mount Whitney to Birch Mountain above Big Pine, and in the Inyo Mountains, from Mount Inyo to Mazourka Peak. The project is approximately 4.5 miles due east of Manzanar historic site, where the existing landscape is an important component of the site’s history.
It will destroy or permanently alter several Jeep trails, portions of the Carson to Colorado railroad bed. There is not much left of the railroad siding of Owenyo, and the Quaker community founded in 1900. We don’t really know how it will affect migrating and native birds from flocks of white-faced Ibis or singular blue herons, or wildlife.
Desert communities across the southwest are dealing with this—where to put wind farms and solar ranches. Communities are discovering the negative impacts of covering a landscape with wind turbines. Landscapes are an essential part of a tourist-based economy. Careful thought must be given to these projects by county supervisors, developers, planners and engineers. Solar and wind farm projects need to be tied to existing industrial or commercial zoning and infrastructure, not situated in places where visitors come to experience the beauty and solitude of the West’s last open lands.
The proposed facility will cover the site of Owenyo. Representatives from both the Big Pine and Fort Independence Band of Paiutes testified on Saturday Nov. 16, that they were not involved in any archaeological study at the new location. Here are a few important points:
• Approximately 4.5 miles due east of Manzanar.
• 1200 acres—roughly the size of the City of West Hollywood or the City of Bishop.
• 1-2 million individual solar panels.
• Full exterior lighting at night. This area is dark at night.
• Almost 6 years to build; 300 temp employees; 12 full-time LADWP employees; minimal to no work to locals.
• 0.5 miles from the Lower Owens River, major water source for wildlife including tule elk, mule deer, mountain lions, coyotes.
• Major riparian habitat for migratory and native birds.
• Will negatively impact wildlife, riparin and desert habitat of Lower Owens River.
• Will be visible from all major Sierra Peaks along eastern scarp and Inyo Mountains. Will destroy this unimpeded view and do irreparable ecological damage to the valley floor.
The LADWP has extended the comment period on the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch until November 26, 2013. Time is running out, but you can send your comments via email.
Please send your comments to:
Ms. Nadia Parker,
Environmental Planning and Assessment
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
111 North Hope Street, Room 1044
Los Angeles, California 90012-2607
See also the article in the Mono Lake Committee website: http://www.monolake.org/today/2013/11/22/manzanar-community-concerned-about-dwp-solar-siting/
Solar Power Plant Proposed Next to Manzanar National Historic Site
September 21, 2013 - A proposed new photovoltaic facility in the Owens Valley of Inyo County, CA, would be too close to Manzanar National Historic Site. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power issued a notice which says that the project “may result in significant environmental impacts to air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, hydrology and water quality.” The notice goes on to say that best management practices and mitigation measures would mean less than significant impacts. The public can comment through October 18th. Public meetings will be held at 6pm at Statham Hall in Lone Pine September 24th and the Methodist Church in Bishop September 25th.
Owens Lake History
January 24, 2011 - Read the interesting essay by Karen Piper: "Dreams, Dust and Birds: The Trashing of Owens Lake."
In The Design Observer Group:
Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch
October 10, 2010 - LADWP proposes more projects >>here.
LA Scales Back Solar Project
July 6, 2010 - Lone Pine, California — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's ambitious plan to put solar panels on 80 square miles of dry lake bed and flatlands east of the Sierra Nevada range has run into a daunting problem: extremely caustic mud in an area where it hoped to build an 80-acre pilot project.
Preliminary engineering tests show that if solar panel platforms were placed at the southern end of the nearly dry 110-square-mile Owens Lake, they would sink as much as several inches into extremely corrosive soil.
The DWP now plans a much more modest five-acre pilot project on firmer sandy soil at the north end of the lake.
Gale-force winds also posed an engineering problem.
See the Los Angeles Times.
Map of Potential Solar Areas
April, 2010 - Much of Owens Dry lake (which does fill with water at times) and Owens Valley northward past Lone Pint to Independance are potential solar energy zones.
The Green Cowboy Leaves DWP
April 12, 2010 - S. David Freeman, Interim General manager of the L.A. Department of Water and Power, who had been pushing for the Owens Lake Solar park, left the controversial water and electricity giant. He called for a "Green Revolution" to replace coal with renewable energy, but admitted that "it will require a mammoth investment of capital that will place upward pressure on electric rates" (see Our LA.org).
See also Ron Kaye L.A. blog.
March 3, 2010 perspective from Sustain Lane blog.
January 11, 2010 - Freeman visits Owens Valley - Mammoth Mountain Forums.
December 8, 2009 - DWP prsents plan to Inyo Supervisors - Sierra Wave.
^Owens Lake and southern Owens Valley from the Inyo Mountains, looking west towards the Sierra Nevada.