Inyo County Planning Department

PO Drawer L

Independence, CA 93526

February 18, 2014

 

Re: Proposed Renewable Energy Development Areas

As an Inyo County resident I would like to go on record as opposing industrial-scale renewable energy development in the vicinity of Manzanar, Centennial Flat, Deep Springs Valley, Panamint Valley and any Inyo County area not immediately adjacent to cities. Solar belongs on roof tops, not in the middle of spectacular view-sheds, important cultural sites or valuable open space. I am absolutely in favor of solar power and have had solar panels on my roof for more than ten years. Our household generates about 95% of the power we consume. If we must develop industrial scale plants they should be located next to our communities and away from undeveloped areas. We should utilize our solar resources here, and export the hydro power we already produce, and for which transmission lines already exist.

The time for industrial solar development has passed. In fact, on January 11, 2014 the Los Angeles Times reported that “The pace of solar development has slowed to a crawl, with a number of companies going out of business and major projects canceled.”  (http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-adv-solar-slowdown-2-20140112,0,3755073.story#ixzz2tgUgEgYL). Why? Because the financing no longer makes sense for large scale projects, and because our society is starting to learn how disruptive to view-sheds and the environment these installations can be, and opposition is becoming more common and more vocal.

According to the “Green Building Advisor”, the cost of distributed generation (roof-top) solar has gotten to the point where it is a much better option than industrial scale operations, meaning what was once a altruistic oddity is now something that is in reach to many home owners and now makes even more financial sense than ever. (See http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/guest-blogs/pv-systems-have-gotten-dirt-cheap?utm_source=email&utm_medium=eletter&utm_content=fhb_eletter&utm_campaign=fine-homebuilding-eletter)

There is also the job myth. It is true that jobs are created for solar manufacturers and installers. But once the installation is up and running those jobs are gone. Other than cleaning the panels these things pretty much run themselves. I spend about 20 minutes every six months hosing off my panels. Other than that time the only other time I interact with the panels is to watch my power meter run backwards (selling power to the utility). It can easily be argued that roof-top scale solar actually creates more jobs than industrial scale because small scale systems are installed piece-meal, creating jobs for the long term, so long as there is a market.

The view-shed and cultural resources of our valleys and mountains must be protected. I would like to point out that the view-shed includes more than just what can be seen from highway 395. I have been fortunate enough to have hiked in many of the mountain ranges adjacent to the lands identified by the REGPA; it would be a travesty beyond words to stand on the west slope of the Inyo Mountains and look down on 600 acres of shinny blue solar panels, to stand atop Mt. Nunn and look down on Deep Springs Valley to see not a unique desert valley, but endless photovoltaic panels, or to be in the Panamint or Argus Mountains and look across not a near-pristine desert playa but instead a sea of solar panels, the result of a misguided County Planning Process. In sacrificing these places to the temptation of easy money from tax revenue that industrial scale solar would (in theory) bring in, Inyo County proposes to destroy what makes Inyo County Inyo County – the view from the valleys and the mountains, the open spaces, and the lack of development that make Inyo County “the Dwelling Place of the Great Spirit”. It would be short sighted indeed to sacrifice these irreplaceable resources to help the bottom line of the LADWP, an out of the area investment bank or County coffers.

 

Sincerely,

Todd Vogel

2635 Highland Drive

Bishop, CA 93514

 

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One Response

  1. Paul Fretheim

    Thanks Todd. According to the County Attorney there is an exemption in the law for renewable energy installations so they cannot be added to the county’s tax base.

    Reply

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