The information and links below are intended to assist you in responding to MBCA's February 14 Eblast request to contact the County Board of Supervisors about the County's Renewable Energy and Conservation Element, and about the proposed review of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan / DRECP.
1. Here is the language in the County's Renewable Energy Element that we urge the Supervisors to retain as originally submitted.
RE Policy 4.10: Prohibit utility-oriented RE project development on sites that would create adverse impacts on the quality of life or economic development opportunities in existing unincorporated communities.
RE 4.10.1: Prohibit development of utility-oriented RE projects in the Rural Living Land use districts throughout the County.
RE 4.10.2 Prohibit development of utility- oriented RE projects within the boundaries of existing community plans, which at the time of adoption of this element are the Bloomington, Muscoy, Bear Valley, Crest Forest, Hilltop, Lake Arrowhead, Lytle Creek, Oak Glen, Homestead Valley, Joshua Tree, Lucerne Valley, Morongo Valley, Oak Hills and Phelan/Pinon Hills Community Plan.
RE 4.10.3 Establish exclusion areas in the Development Code regulations for renewable energy development, beginning with the prohibitions in Policies 4.10.1 and 4.10.2 and provide for additional exclusion areas, such as new community plan areas to be designated by amendment to the development code.
2. Here is a link to the comprehensive Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan - DRECP that was finalized in September 2016 to designate focus areas for large-scale renewable energy development across the Mojave Desert and also conservation lands that should not be available for such development.
3. Here are two version of a model/sample letter to the Supervisors, in PDF format that you may print and send with your signature, or you can download the letter as a Word document and edit it with your own personalized comments before sending.
San Bernardino County Supervisors
385 North Arrowhead Avenue
San Bernardino, CA 92415
After years of consultation and public input (including hundreds of letters and in-person comments from Morongo Basin residents), the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan carved out 388,000 acres of public land in the Mojave Desert for renewable-energy development and set aside 5 million acres, or 7,812 square miles, for conservation. Due to the President’s December Executive Order "Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth," the BLM has initiated a 45-day public comment period that began February 2, 2018. Here is the Federal Register document initiating the comment period and providing details on the areas of inquiry and how to comment. MBCA will be providing information and suggestions for comments in the near future. Here are several news articles on the issue; the titles provide a picture of what is at stake: “Trump administration signals move against California desert protection plan” from the San Francisco Chronicle; “Trump administration takes aim at California desert protection plan” from the Los Angeles Times; “Trump plan could undo preservation of millions of acres of California desert for renewable energy development” from the Riverside Press Enterprise.
MBCA Director Pat Flanagan has created an illustrated PowerPoint slideshow, Sand Transport Paths in the Mojave Desert, which has been presented to the Lucerne Valley and the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Councils. The slideshow demonstrates how the scraped land of existing and proposed Mojave Desert solar projects contributes harmful particulate matter to the air we breathe, because of soil types and wind patterns. Yet, as the presentation also points out, the methods, functioning, and analysis of soil types and "fugitive dust"are currently seriously inadequate for evaluation in solar project planning.
For a closer look at the problem as it pertains to Lucerne Valley, watch this YouTube video by Lucerne Valley resident Tony Malone.
(The photo illustrates a dust storm in the Cascade Solar area just west of Copper Mountain College in March 2016.)
MBCA engaged professional planner and former Advisory Board member Stephanie Weigel, AICP, to work with Directors Pat Flanagan, Meg Foley, Ruth Rieman, and Marina West, and create a comprehensive analysis of the County's final draft of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element. A theme that appears throughout this detailed comment letter is the need for “clear and unambiguous definitions” and “stronger language in policy statements” that will lead to an effective Development Code. We encourage you to read the letter before attending the August 8 Public Comment Meeting about the RECE, and to add your own comments at that meeting. The meeting will be videoconferenced at the Bob Burke Government Center in Joshua Tree, beginning at 1:00 pm.
In another extraordinarily detailed and comprehensive document, MBCA Director Pat Flanagan on June 30 sent MBCA's official comment letter on the proposed Ord Mountain Solar and Energy Storage Project in Lucerne Valley to San Bernardino County Land Use Services. In addition,
(Please note that not all links may still be available.)
Excerpt from May 31, 2017 Eblast
Joshua Tree Airport Solar Project
NextEra /JT Solar project is also officially in a "legal stay" for six months as requested by NextEra. The Southern California Edison’s RAM PPA for the project has expired and NextEra has stated no work on the project has gone forward. The group Joshua Tree Community for Responsible Solar took the lead in opposing the project and initiated legal action.
Excerpt from August 29, 2016 Eblast
Joshua Tree Solar Farm Appeal denied
The Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted August 16th 4-1 to deny the three appeals filed and gave their approval for development of the Joshua Tree Solar Farm – a 20 megawatt photovoltaic project to be located on 115 acres at the former Roy Williams Airport site. Many residents spoke in support of the appeals and more sent letters – clearly and strongly expressing opposition to this project in the rural residential community. Apparently our arguments, including that this is not an area that can accurately be characterized as “disturbed land” (it is relatively intact acreage) and therefore not appropriate for industrial scale solar were not convincing to the majority of Supervisors. They also discounted the fact that the site is visible from a hiking trail in Joshua Tree National Park – which according to the County’s own Renewable Energy and Conservation Element Framework is a criteria worthy of consideration. Only our 3rd District Supervisor, James Ramos voted in favor of the appeal to stop the project. Defend Joshua Tree (https://defendjt.wordpress.com) has reported that a lawsuit or three to stop the project from moving forward seems likely. MBCA E-Blasts will keep you informed of these efforts. This battle isn’t over yet.
Excerpt from August 15, 2016 Eblast
Joshua Tree Airport Solar Farm - Appeal Hearing decision
Broadcast live via videoconference at the JT Burke Government Center tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16th, starting at 1:00PM.
Joshua Tree Airport Solar Farm – Appeal Hearing decision
Hear each of the three Appellants will have 3 minutes each to speak, the developer NextEra’s 5 minutes in defense of the project, and the Supervisors vote and final decision. The public will not be given opportunity for additional spoken comment.
(NOTE: This special BOS meeting will NOT be available on the internet via a link – only at the Burke Center videoconference.)
Thanks to the many residents who showed up last Tuesday at the Burke Government Center in JT and in San Bernardino at the Supervisors Chambers. Speakers in support of the Appeal – in opposition to the development – spoke clearly, eloquently, strongly. Supervisors however postponed their decision until tomorrow, August 16th.
Join MBCA Directors and others to attend in person & show the Sups we care: BOS Hearing Chamber, San Bernardino, 385 North Arrowhead Avenue, Covington Chambers, First Floor. Read MBCA’s comment letter on the JT Solar Farm.
We’re coming close to the deadline (Monday, August 22nd) to send comment letters to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) urging them to deny Bechtel permission to develop the Soda Mountain Solar project. Previous E-Blasts and our website have kept you informed about this unfortunate solar project that would destroy acres of pristine desert in a critical wildlife corridor between Death Valley National Park and the Mojave Preserve. The Supervisors are in the position to stop the project and there are numerous reasons for them to do so. Hopefully you’ve sent your comments in – if not – now’s the time!
You may submit comments to the Board of Supervisors in several ways:
Clerk of the Board
385 North Arrowhead Ave., 2nd Floor,
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0130
Read MBCA's latest comment letter on Soda Mountain.
Except from Eblast August 1, 2016
NEXT TUESDAY - OPPOSE JOSHUA TREE AIRPORT SOLAR FARM
August 9th; 10:00 AM (open session begins) – 2:00 PM
Supervisors Appeal Hearing
Attend via videoconference: Bob Burke Government Center,
6427 Whitefeather Road, Joshua Tree – just East of the Courthouse.
Attend in person: BOS Hearing Chamber, San Bernardino,
Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,
MBCA, the Morongo Basin MAC, and others have strongly stated opposition to the Joshua Tree Airport Solar Farm proposed by NextEra. This will likely be our last opportunity to stop the project that would have numerous harmful impacts to the local community, as well as visiting tourists (documented in links that follow).
San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors (BOS) will conduct a public hearing to consider three appeals of a Planning Commission action to approve the Conditional Use permit to establish this 20-megawatt photovoltaic solar energy generating facility on approximately 115 acres at the former Hi Desert (Roy Williams) Airport. The Appellants are: Coalition for Responsible Solar, Socal Environmental Justice Alliances, and Joshua Tree Community for Responsible Solar, as well as individuals.
The BOS have warned: Due to time constraints and the number of persons wishing to give oral testimony, time restrictions may be placed, on oral testimony at the public hearing regarding this proposal. You may wish to make your comments in writing to ensure that you are able to express yourself adequately. Any questions regarding the hearing should be addressed to the Planning Division of the Land Use Service Dept., 385 North Arrowhead Ave., first floor, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0187l (909) 387-8311
You may also call John Oquendo, Senior Planner, Land Use Services Department, with any questions: 760-995-8153
Re.: The appeals of the Joshua Tree Solar Farm Project (Main Project No. P201400482, Appeals No. P201600230, P201600234, and P201600230)
Read the official notice of the appeals hearing.
Read Joshua Tree resident Tom O’Key’s letter to the Hi Desert Star.
Read MBCA’s comment letter.
Hope to see many of you at the Burke Center to fill the audience with community in support of the Appeals to stop this ill-conceived, ill-sited project in its tracks!
Excerpt from MBCA Eblast July 16, 2016
Joshua Tree Airport Solar Farm BOS Appeal Hearing
Tuesday, August 9th; 10:00 AM (open session begins) – 2:00 PM
Location: County Covington Chambers, County Government Center
385 North Arrowhead Avenue, First Floor, San Bernardino
Morongo Basin County Government Center, 6427 White Feather Road, Joshua Tree via videoconference
San Bernardino Co. Supervisors will hear the three appeals opposing the project. Show your support of the opposition by attending the videoconference of the meeting at Bob Burke Government Center, JT or in person in San Bernardino.
* * * *