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

 

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 cogeneration plants.  This brochure explains more about renewable energy development on the Base.

 

  • 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 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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  • MBCA Comment Letter on Daggett Solar Power Facility

    The Daggett Solar project northeast of the Morongo Basin near Daggett and Newberry Springs proposes a five-and-a-half square mile array that would bring more damage than benefit to the area's residents and to the Mojave Desert. In MBCA's April 29, 2019 comment letter, Pat Flanagan outlines the issues and illustrates through photos and maps how the project is flawed despite proposed mitigations. Also noted as likely outcomes are a reduction in human quality of life, for reasons of fugitive dust with health consequences and reduced viewsheds affecting tourism. Potential damage to wildlife and birds, increased temperatures from heat island effects, and reduced panel effectiveness due to dust accumulation are other situations explored in the richly illustrated letter.  
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  • LA Times Editorial on RECE 4.10 and MBCA Director Response

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    On March 11 the Los Angeles Times published an editorial titled "Green power runs up against desert conservation in California," a response to the San Bernardino County Supervisors' vote in favor of RECE 4.10. As MBCA supporters know, RECE 4.10 offers protection to rural desert communities from large-scale renewable energy developments. While the Times editorial in part acknowledges the needs of rural desert communities, it concludes by saying that California needs both rooftop and large-scale energy developments. A response by MBCA Director Pat Flanagan provides detailed reasons for why inappropriately-placed large-scale projects in the desert can harm rural communities.  The photo illustrates a dust storm in Joshua Tree near a solar field just west of Copper Mountain College.  
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  • Renewable Energy Policy 4.10 Adopted by Supervisors

    Justifying the long-term resolve and perseverance of desert residents communicating with their elected representatives, San Bernardino's Supervisors voted 4-1 to adopt the Renewable Energy Conservation Element policy 4.10 on February 28. The policy prohibits utility-scale renewable energy developments in the County's desert areas with Community Plans in place and in Rural Living zones. Quoted in the Los Angeles Times article about the RECE 4.10 vote, Supervisor Robert Lovingood said residents "spoke clearly about what they want to see."

    MBCA is grateful to the dozens of residents who have taken time to make public comments in writing and in person over the course of almost two years to work toward this positive outcome. Here is the local news coverage at the Hi Desert Star and KCDZ radio. More information can also be found in this San Bernardino Sun article. For more background you can use the Search feature at the top of this webpage to find prior MBCA News and EBlasts about RECE 4.10 by using RECE as the keyword.

    If you wish to watch the video of the February 28 Supervisors meeting you can see some of the key testimony for RECE Policy 4.10 as follows:

    Robin Kobaly at 1:32
    Pat Flanagan at 2:13
    Sarah Kennington at 2:59
    David Fick at 3:01
    Claudia Sall at 3:24
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