Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy issues are critical to our quality of life in the Morongo Basin. MBCA is supportive of California's latest renewable energy goals enumerated in Senate Bill 100 signed by the Governor in September 2018. (Read news reports about the bill from the Los Angeles Times and Vox.) We continue to monitor and take action regarding Mojave desert areas designated for inappropriately sited renewable energy development. We also want to keep you informed about the development of local commercial solar projects. 

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View of Joshua Tree's Cascade Solar (Sunfair area) from the Park, south of Panorama Heights.

 

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Dust storm near Cascade Solar as seen from Highway 62

 

house with solar panels on roof

On the local level, MBCA encourages residents to consider home/rooftop solar (see our list of Morongo Basin solar contractors).  
The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms continues to increase its installation of solar panels and employs co-generation plants. The installation leads the Marine Corps in green energy production. This brochure explains more about renewable energy development on the Base.

 

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    MBCA Joins Call to State in Support of Net Metering

    MBCA has joined over 70 organizations signing a letter addressed to Governor Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission stating concern about changes to net metering. Net metering allows rooftop solar owners connected to the grid to receive bill credit for energy produced beyond their own needs. This does not work to the advantage of investor-owned utilities that are pressing for changes. The letter also encourages more solar battery storage and rooftop solar growth with extra support for low-income communities.
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    DRECP Changes Revoked

    On February 17 the Department of the Interior revoked the eleventh-hour amendment to California's Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan by the outgoing administration that would have greatly reduced protected lands. This Desert Sun article provides more history and details, and California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas has released this statement of recognition and appreciation.  
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    DRECP Status Still Uncertain

    This recent LA times article provides a great deal of background on myriad aspects of environmental concern related to energy development in the California desert. It explores federal and state political aspects as well as commentary from environmental non-profit groups, particularly as they relate to the previous administration's last-minute draft revision to California's Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.  
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    Proposed Reduction in Protected Lands in the DRECP

    MBCA has kept our supporters informed since its inception about California's Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). While we deemed its final land protections not ideal but acceptable (after eight years of intense debate and input), the current federal administration is seeking to reduce those protected lands. The Bureau of Land Management on January 13 released a draft environmental impact statement and plan amendment for the three plans that underlie the DRECP. These changes disregard conservation efforts by supporting massive solar projects, mining and natural resource extraction, rights-of-way, livestock grazing, and off-roading recreation. BLM is also proposing modifications to the California Desert National Conservation Lands to reduce the connections and impede on the wildlife corridors in these areas. This Desert Sun article provides more background and details. Please review the documents in the proposal and let the BLM know what you support and oppose. Public comment can be submitted until April 15, 2021. 
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    MBCA Opposes Stagecoach Solar in Lucerne Valley

    The latest large-scale solar development proposed for a problematic desert location is Stagecoach Solar, proposed for the Lucerne Valley area. In this case we are pleased that many of our concerns about the project on behalf of east desert residents are mirrored by the two desert-area County Supervisors, District 3 Supervisor Dawn Rowe and District 1 Supervisor Robert Lovingood. As in MBCA's comment letter, issues mentioned in the Supervisors' letter include existing County land use policies (RECE 4.10 especially), damage to wildlife corridors, and impaired viewsheds. In another extremely detailed and comprehensive coalition letter signed by 67 associations, organizations, and individuals including MBCA, there are numerous carefully researched and verifiable arguments to show why the Stagecoach Solar project would create a cascade of human and environmental difficulties for the Lucerne Valley community, not the least of which is a breach of  environmental justice.
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    MBCA Joins Broad Coalition Opposing Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project

    MBCA is one of 27 diverse non-profit groups opposing any further consideration of the Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project in this June 23rd letter to Governor Newsom and the co-chairs of the recently created Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. Following three failed legislative efforts to seek bailout and authorization for its proposed Eagle Crest Pumped Storage Project, Next Era is now seeking consideration from the Task Force. Attached to the Coalition letter is a similar request signed by the California Municipal Utilities Association, Southern California Public Power Authority, and Northern California Power Agency. Prior coalition letters of opposition to this project signed by MBCA in April and May are also included in the document.
     
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    MBCA Joins Opposition to Yellow-Pine Solar Project

    The proposed Yellow-Pine Solar Project is another large-scale project inappropriately sited on BLM land in the Mojave Desert, and being fast-tracked without consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many other flawed rationales. MBCA has joined six other concerned organizations to send a fact-filled document refuting the validity of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Among the statements in the letter supported with references and illustrations are these:
    • The Purpose and Need are Faulty.
    • The Proposed Action, Alternative, and Environmental Consequences Analysis Is Inadequate.
    • More Alternatives, Alternative Locations, and Distributed Generation Alternatives Need To Be Analyzed.
    • No Mitigation Measures Are Provided For Significant Impacts To The Environment.
    • Rare Plants Will Be Harmed.
    • Eagles May Be Impacted.
    • Burrowing Owls Will Be Significantly Impacted. 


    Details can be found in the
    Yellow-Pine Solar Project letter signed by MBCA, Basin and Range Watch, Western Watersheds Project, Sierra Club California and Nevada Desert Committee, Desert Survivors, and Shoshone Village.

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    MBCA Signs on for Environmental Justice in Lucerne Valley

    The latest solar energy project proposed for Lucerne Valley has generated a groundswell of concern and opposition. In a letter to the California State Lands Commission signed by MBCA and 16 other groups and more than 50 individuals, the case is built against Aurora Solar LLC, a 3600-acre utility scale development. According to the Lands Commission's own Environmental Justice Policy, the effects on this disadvantaged community with a significant population of older and health-compromised individuals would violate the agency's policy. The letter supports California's renewable energy goals, but provides detailed analysis and maps that illustrate why permitting the Aurora Solar project in Lucerne Valley would be damaging to the community.
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    Pumped Storage at Eagle Mountain and Related Issues

    A comprehensive article about the Eagle Mountain pumped storage project and similar projects in other areas of the country was published by the Los Angeles Times. MBCA has had continuing concerns about the use of the old Eagle Mountain mine for many years, especially as it relates to the environmental health of Joshua Tree National Park (which is noted in the article). To review past MBCA News Updates related to Eagle Mountain, go to MBCA's Search page and type in "Eagle" or "Eagle Mountain" and you'll find several dozen links to past relevant MBCA News and EBlasts. 
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    MBCA Comments on Crimson Solar, Riverside County

    MBCA has added its voice of opposition to the Crimson Solar project in Riverside County. A detailed analysis of and comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report by our colleagues at Basin and Range Watch and Western Watersheds Project resulted in this conclusion:

    "The BLM should select the No Action Alternative for the Crimson Solar Project. The project is not complete in planning. The BLM has not chosen or decided on adequate mitigation yet. The project's storage plan is full of flaws. California is overgenerating large-scale solar energy. It is not worth the risk to special status species, and to degrade so many resources on lands considered so sacred to Native Americans - especially when the project technology is so speculative."

    Read the entire comment letter for all the details. 
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