Unified, Grass-Roots Effort Credited With Gaining Indefinite Hold On Industrial-Scale Solar Projects Threatening Manzanar, Owens Valley

To download a copy of this statement,
click on the image above.
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LOS ANGELES — In a joint statement on August 3, the Manzanar Committee and the Owens Valley Committee (OVC) announced that two industrial-scale solar energy projects that would have had adverse impacts on California’s Owens Valley and the Manzanar National Historic Site have been delayed indefinitely.

On March 12, 2015, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) withdrew their proposed 1,200-acre Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch (SOVSR) from the Interconnection Queue for their Inyo-Rinaldi transmission line, which transports electricity through the Owens Valley, south to Los Angeles.

As reported by Deb Murphy of Sierra Wave Online, a news outlet covering Inyo and Mono Counties, LADWP confirmed that the SOVSR project has been removed from the interconnection queue.

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Personal Approach Helped Stall DWP Solar Project

At an April 1, 2014 press conference, held on the steps of the Inyo County Courthouse in Independence, California, stakeholders called on the Inyo County Board of Supervisors to protect the Owens Valley from large-scale,
industrial renewable energy development. From left: Alan Bacock, Big Pine Paiute Tribe, Mary Roper,
Owens Valley Committee, Bruce Embrey, Manzanar Committee, Meredith Hackleman, Metabolic Studio.
(click to view larger image)
Photo: Judyth Greenburgh

The following was originally published in the June 2, 2015 edition of the Inyo Register. It is reprinted here with permission.


by Jon Klusmire
Special to the Inyo Register

INDEPENDENCE, CA — A personal approach that tapped into a shared history of past battles and victories was credited with delaying for a decade the industrial scale solar power project that kicked off an 18-month public debate in Inyo County about the future of the solar power industry in the county.

An alliance of Inyo County residents and organizations, and the Los Angeles based Manzanar Committee, came together to battle the solar project in 2014, in a move that resembled a similar effort 25 years ago to out-maneuver the Los Angeles Department of Power (LADWP) during the long struggle to establish the Manzanar National Historic Site.

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Manzanar Committee Renews Its Call On Inyo County To Protect Manzanar, Owens Valley From Large Scale Renewable Energy Development

Inyo County may still be considering opening the marked area on this map, much of which is visible fron the Manzanar National Historic Site, to large-scale solar energy development.
(click above to view larger map)

LOS ANGELES — On February 3, the Manzanar Committee reiterated its opposition to any large-scale, industrial renewable energy development in the Owens Valley, especially that which would intrude upon the viewshed of the Manzanar National Historic Site. Further, the Committee renewed their call on the Inyo County Board of Supervisors to protect Manzanar and the Owens Valley from such development in perpetuity in their final Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) for the County’s Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA).

The REGPA, which is in the hands of the County’s Board of Supervisors for final approval of its PEIR, defines Solar Energy Development Areas where large-scale renewable energy generating facilities could be built in Inyo County.

With Manzanar and the Owens Valley already facing a serious threat from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch (SOVSR), a 1,200-acre solar energy generating facility that would be built adjacent to Manzanar, Inyo County appears to be favoring opening the door to additional industrial solar energy development in the vicinity.

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Manzanar Committee Calls On Inyo County To Protect Owens Valley In Perpetuity From Large-Scale Solar Energy Development

For a printable copy of this statement,
click on the image above.
(requires Adobe Reader software to view/print.

On July 8, 2014, the Manzanar Committee submitted its official comments to the Inyo County Planning Department and Board of Supervisors in response to their Notice of Preparation for the Program Environmental Impact Report for their 2013 Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA).

In their initial draft of this amendment, the County would have opened the Owens Valley, from Independence south to Lone Pine, east of U.S. Highway 395, to large-scale renewable energy facilities that would intrude upon the viewshed of the Manzanar National Historic Site. Along with tribal organizations in the Owens Valley and the Owens Valley Committee, the Manzanar Committee fought to have this area removed from consideration, to protect both the Owens Valley and its residents, along with the Manzanar National Historic Site.

After months of political pressure, the Board of Supervisors removed the Owens Valley from consideration as part of the 2013 REGPA in their latest draft (June 2014), which is now moving to the next stage, the drafting of a Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR).

Our comments for the PEIR below, written by Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey, closely mirror our initial comments on the 2013 REGPA.

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