As much as we all want to do our part to help protect Inyo County and preserve it for future generations, trying to stay on top of all the necessary information can be a bit daunting. We here at Deepest Valley want to do our part to help everyone be informed and make educated decisions on the important issues that deal with the well-being of our home.

The most important and pressing issue at hand now is the what’s known as the draft Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA). This plan, authored by the Inyo County Planning Department, was created in an attempt to address the need for renewable energy development in Inyo County, an issue being faced by counties across the state because of state-level mandates. Although we can all agree that renewable energy is a wonderful thing, we here at Deepest Valley believe that large-scale, corporate industrial development is absolutely the wrong way to go about creating a renewable energy future in Inyo County.

The REGPA sets aside Renewable Energy Development Areas (or REDA’s) that would be designated development sites for large-scale solar, wind and renewable energy installations. The REGPA sets aside 10% of physical Inyo County land for such development, in all areas of the county.

On February 26th, the Inyo County Planning Commission was presented the REGPA by the planning department. During this meeting, the planning commission listened to seventy concerned citizens voice their disapproval of the plan, citing issues with the plan’s validity, its questionable reasoning, and of course the significant and lasting effect it would have on the landscape of the county. Unfortunately, after this testimony by the public and the realization of the REGPA’s numerous faults, the planning commission was convinced by the planning department to vote the plan forward for approval by the Inyo County Board of Supervisors on March 18th.

As it was pointed out during the planning department meeting on the 26th, there are significant issues with the REGPA. The document claims that a fundamental criteria for its creation was widespread community support, a claim that is quickly being totally undermined by the community, the planning meeting on the 26th, and this site. The REGPA is constructed on unsound and invalid arguments (the phantom public support among them), as well as contradictory claims regarding the creation of the REDA’s. As it is written, landscape characteristics such as viewshed, historical importance, and critical habit were considered when creating the areas assigned to industrial development; however the proposed REDA’s in the plan include infringements upon the Lower Owens River Project, The Owens Lake area (seasonal home to migratory birds), adjacent to Manzanar Historic Site, and in fragile desert environments bordering Death Valley National Park. As you can see, the document fails to live up to its own standards and rules. The adoption of such policy is reckless and undermines the entire governmental process.

All of this, of course, goes along with the fact that the REGPA is a direct threat to the lasting beauty of Inyo County, its tourist-based economy, and the apparent fact that the planning department is more concerned with overzealous development and filling budget gaps than trying to find creative and new solutions to our energy challenges. We here at Deepest Valley firmly believe that a better solution can be found – one that doesn’t necessitate the destruction of our home, and one that supports new and more efficient technologies built around point-of-use renewables such as rooftop solar.

So – what does this all mean for you as a community member of Inyo County? Thankfully, the course of action is an easy one: Speak up. We have an opportunity to make a difference and protect this incredible landscape that we call home here in Inyo County, but only if we make our voices heard. With that in mind, Deepest Valley has put together the following list of key contacts and addresses. If we all do our part to speak up, we can make a difference. Below you’ll find an easy, step-by-step process to make your voice heard. All we ask is that you take a moment to follow it:

STEP 1:
Put your concerns in writing. It doesn’t have to be long – it’s your voice that’s important. And if you’re unsure about what to say, use our talking points guide to help you.

STEP 2:
Talk to your supervisor. The people in charge of approving or rejecting the REGPA need your input. They can be reached at:

District 1:
Linda Arcularius
Work: 760-387-2692 / cell: 760-937-2486
Work email: larcularius@inyocounty.us / Personal email: ARYy@qnet.com

District 2:
Jeff Griffiths
Work: 760-937-0072
Work email: jgriffiths@inyocounty.us

District 3:
Rick Pucci
Work: 760-878-0373 (Independence Office) / 760-872-0917 (district office)
Personal email: supervisor.pucci@gmail.com

District 4:
Mark Tillemans
Work: 760-938-2024 / Cell: 760-878-8506
Work email: mtillemans@inyocounty.us

District 5:
Matt Kingsley
Work: 760-878-8508
Work email: mkingsley@inyocounty.us

STEP 3:

If you can, make plans to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting on March 18th in Independence.

STEP 4:

Did you call or write your supervisor yet? If not, revisit step 2.

STEP 5:

Sign the petition, submit your letter to be posted here at Deepest Valley, and be part of the continuing story of Inyo.

 

Sources:
Inyo County Planning Department:

http://www.inyoplanning.org/projects/documents/PCStaffReportwithattachments.pdf

Inyo County:

http://www.inyocounty.us/county_directory.htm

 

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6 Responses

  1. Kathy Goss

    Thank you, Bryan, for you excellent summary of this document. It will be a very useful educational tool.

    I’d like to suggest that, as much as possible, Deepest Valley avoid the use of acronyms. Most members of the public have no idea what these capital-letter salads stand for, and it’s not always easy to trace the acronyms back to the original reference that spells out the whole phrase. Acronyms are a form of technobabble that alienates the public from government agencies that are supposedly working for us. If people don’t know what’s being discussed, they just give up and leave it to the “experts.”

    For REGPA, how about Renewable Energy Plan, and for REDA, how about Development Areas? These could be offered as the abbreviated forms of the full terms, rather than using acronyms.

    Reply
    • Bryan Curt Kostors
      Bryan Curt Kostors

      Kathy -

      I agree that there are too many acronyms in the world! Honestly, I debated this very thing before publishing this article, but decided to use a set of limitations. I only used the acronyms REGPA and REDA, and defined both in the article. While I agree that they get in the way much of the time, I believe it’s also important that folks get to know the language that will be used to discuss this project in front of the Board of Supervisors, and become comfortable with it, especially with these few key terms.

      Reply
  2. Sherri Lee Smith

    Acronyms, smack-ro-nyms … not the issue and not in the way of projecting the issue. If there wasn’t so much precious open space (as is the case in over 75% of the State of California), the ONLY way to obtain solar energy would be rooftop solar on existing buildings. Guess what? It has proven to be very efficient. Instead of building a “solar energy plant”, has the Planning Commission considered enacting a regional ordinance which REQUIRES all new buildings and tear-down/remodels of existing buildings to CONVERT to solar-paneled rooftops? This would attract business to the region (e.g. tax dollars) and lower the cost of energy while making use of this region’s abundance of sunny days. An incentive for conversion would be for the Planning Commission to cost-share with the owners. Federal funding is surely available for such an initiative. Just because this region is endowed with this precious natural resource doesn’t mean that it has to share it with “Outlaw Regions”. Los Angeles Aqueduct and “California Water Wars” comes to mind…..

    Reply
  3. Colin Magowan

    Hi Bryan – How would solar development “fill[] budget gaps” within the County? I was under the impression that any solar development in Inyo would have marginal, at best, direct or indirect economic benefits that would accrue towards the County.

    Reply

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