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.

 

  • 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

    JT_Lake_dust_storm_from_TO_(1).jpg
    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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  • MBCA Comments on Calcite Solar Project in Lucerne Valley

    Among the numerous proposed solar projects in the Lucerne Valley and Newberry Springs area northwest of the Morongo Basin is the Calcite Solar Project. On February 22 MBCA sent scoping comments to San Bernardino County Land Use Services expressing concerns about likely negative impacts of this project. The comment letter emphasizes the cumulative effects of this project with three other nearby proposed projects: Ord Mountain Solar, Calcite Transmission unit, and the Siena Solar Project. Areas of concern include air quality and soils, aesthetics, and biological resources. The letter contains excellent data-rich maps once again provided by Brian Hammer and a paper by Robin Kobaly explaining the importance of underground biological entities that are critical to the survival of desert plants. 
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  • Supervisors to Vote on RECE 4.10 on February 28

    In an interview on local radio station KCDZ FM on Friday, January 18, Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe announced that the County Supervisors will hold a special meeting to vote on the RECE 4.10 with full Board attendance on Thursday, February 28, 2019. She also stated she will vote for the version recommended by the Planning Commission, which is the version MBCA supports. For the most recent recap of the issue, please read our January 15 EBlast.

    Read the official notice of the February 28 meeting for more details. Video conferencing of the meeting will be available at the usual sites including Joshua Tree's Bob Burke Government Center in Joshua Tree. 
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  • EBlast January 15, 2019

      MBCA_Sticker_Final_Transparent.png

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    As a MBCA supporter, you know we have been working diligently with San Bernardino County to steer renewable energy policy. After numerous delays, the County Board of Supervisors appear to have finally set the date to cast their votes on Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) section 4.10 to ban utility-scale renewable projects in areas zoned RL and in areas covered by existing community plans. Once again, it is critical that the Supervisors hear from residents in protection of our rural life style and the environment. The message is simple and clear: Follow the Planning Commission’s recommendation that Policy 4.10 be made part of the county’s Renewable Energy and Conservation Element.  

    NOTE: A video of the County's May 24 Planning Commission meeting focused on RECE 4.10 is available courtesy of the Newberry Springs Community Alliance. The video on their RECE 4.10 page is augmented by a detailed chronology of actions, speakers, and commentary. The video itself may not be playable on all platforms, but the speakers list and commentary about the proceedings make it quite informative.

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  • MBCA Files Ord Mountain DEIR Comment

    On November 16 MBCA filed a comment letter with San Bernardino County in response to the Draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed Ord Mountain Solar and Energy Project near Lucerne Valley. Director Pat Flanagan once again researched and wrote a detailed analysis of the Ord Mountain DEIR, with technical input and data from a GIS analyst and others. A number of maps, charts, and aerial photos provide extensive documentation to explain the many potential negative impacts of such a project.

    Co-authoring MBCA's comment letter with exceptional assistance on the development of data-rich maps was Brian Hammer, Professional Data/GIS Analyst and Adjunct Professor at Victor Valley College in the Agriculture and Natural Resource Department. 

    For additional background, read MBCA's June 2017 Scoping letter on the Ord Mountain project.
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  • Supervisors Postpone RECE 4.10 Hearing

    Early in their November 6 meeting, the four San Bernardino County Supervisors present (District 3 Supervisor Ramos was absent) voted unanimously to postpone to a future meeting the public hearing that included consideration of the "revised" Renewable Energy Conservation Element section 4.10. (Read more details in our October 29 update and November 1 EBlast.) They cited concern that Supervisor Ramos should be present because of the large degree to which his district will be affected. 
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  • EBlast November 1, 2018

    San Bernardino County RECE Policy 4.10: Supervisors vote 11.6.18 
    San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District Service Zone FP-5 expansion
    MBCA’s 50th Anniversary kick-off event: 1.26.2019

    Dear MBCA Members and Supporters,

    At long last the San Bernardino County Supervisors will consider the adoption of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) section 4.10 at their November 6th meeting. They will choose between two disparate visions to determine the fate of our desert regions for generations. Their decision will define Renewable Energy development in rural residential (RL) communities.

    On the Agenda of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Meeting will be "a public hearing to consider an amendment to the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) of the County General Plan. The proposed amendment would add the original Policy 4.10, a policy that would limit the areas where utility-oriented renewable energy projects will be permitted."

    In late May, the San Bernardino County Planning Commission recommended to the Board of Supervisors that the original language of section 4.10 of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element of the County Plan be retained rather than a variation that had been proposed by Land Use Services in 2017. Read our May 25, 2018 News Update for details on that vote. The original version of RECE 4.10 that the Planning Commission recommended (after extensive discussion) gives much greater protection to desert communities against inappropriate and/or excessive renewable energy projects compared to the LUS-recommended version that favors development.

    Do the Supervisors stand behind the residents or the developers of industrial RE? This is our final opportunity to speak out in defense of rural communities!

    The original version of RECE 4.10 embodies the perspective and wishes of many organizations and individuals across the high desert and reduces the chance that desert communities will be disadvantaged by a proliferation of large-scale renewable energy projects. There is however no certainty that the Supervisors will follow the Planning Commission’s recommendations in their final vote on RECE Policy 4.10.

    WHAT: San Bernardino County Supervisors meeting
    WHEN: Tuesday, November 6th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    WHERE:
    In person:
    San Bernardino County Government Center
    385 N Arrowhead Avenue
    San Bernardino, CA 92415

    Via remote video-conference:
    Bob Burke Joshua Tree Government Center
    63665 Twentynine Palms Highway
    Joshua Tree, CA 92252

    The presence and voices of residents definitely made a difference in the decision Planning Commissioners reached in May. A strong showing for our position is once again critical to a good outcome! The developers’ interest will undoubtedly be present – community interests must be present to tip the balance. Each public speaker will have 3 minutes to present comments. Residents in the unincorporated rural communities – once again – must urge Supervisors to select the original language to protect our rural lifestyle and natural environment. This vote would, as per the rest of the RECE, still permit utility-scale projects in the rest of the unincorporated County.The alternative opens a very dangerous door to utility-scale RE development in our unincorporated communities.  

    To differentiate between the Community Values option being considered for 4.10 vs. the “Developer Wants” option for 4.10 – your comments to Supervisors on Nov. 6th could focus on:

    • Small-Scale over the Large-Scale
    • Local Use over the Remote Use
    • Minimal Impact over the Maximum Impact
    • Water is Life over the Water is for Wasting
    • Clean Air over the Dust Storms
    • Scenic Vistas over the Industrialized View
    • Local Benefits over the Remote Benefits
    • Reality version over the Fantasy Community Compatibility Report version

    When the Supervisors vote, this strategy for comments will leave no doubt what side each Commissioner voted for! Utility scale RE is not compatible with rural residential communities!

    MBCA Director Pat Flanagan has submitted an opinion letter to the Hi Desert Star in support of the original RECE 4.10. A similar piece has been published in the Victor Valley Daily Press by Lucerne Valley resident Neil Nadler. UPDATE 11/2/18: A comment letter from LVEDA, the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association, has been sent to the Supervisors.

    San Bernardino Co. Fire Protection District Service Zone FP-5

    The recent vote approved the expansion of the boundaries of Service Zone FP-5 and increased assessment fees. This was proposed as the best way to generate needed revenues to maintain existing fire protection and emergency services. Each legal parcel within Service Zone FP-5 is assessed an annual parcel fee. The current assessment is set at $157.26/year, and can increase up to 3% each year.

    In closing

    How could November 6th be a more important day for the future of both our local communities and our Country? We care, we VOTE and we will make our opinions known to our County Supervisors!

    A special note: MBCA will celebrate its 50th Anniversary working to protect our rural desert communities and environment in 2019. Please mark your calendars for Saturday, January 26, 2019 for what will be a stellar program with speakers of national stature at our Annual Meeting and Program. We will reflect on MBCA’s storied past and look forward to the next 50 years!

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Kennington, President
    Morongo Basin Conservation Association 

    Your 2018 MBCA Board
    David Fick, Vice President                Steve Bardwell, Treasurer
    Marina West, Recording Secretary     Pat Flanagan, Director      
    Meg Foley, Director                          Mike Lipsitz, Director
    Ruth Rieman, Director                      Claudia Sall, Director
    Seth Shteir, Director                         Laraine Turk, Director

     

    www.mbconservation.org

    MBCA advocates for a healthy desert environment 
    that nurtures the region’s rural character, cultural wealth
    and economic well-being.

     

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  • MBCA Joins RECE 4.10 Coalition Comment Letter

    The County Supervisors will be considering adoption of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element section 4.10 at their November 6 meeting. MBCA has signed a comment letter with a coalition of organizations and individuals urging the Supervisors to vote for the original version of RECE 4.10 rather than the revised version presented to the Board by Land Use Services. (More details and background can be found in the coalition's May 2018 letter.) Embodying the perspective and wishes of many organizations and individuals across the hi desert, the original version of RECE 4.10 reduces the chance that desert communities will be disadvantaged by a proliferation of large scale renewable energy projects.

    Excerpts from official San Bernardino County documents that show the County's past inclination to protect and support its communities have been collected in this document: SBC Documents Supporting Communities.

    Learn more from an editorial statement in the Victor Valley Daily Press by Lucerne Valley resident Neal Nadler in support of the original RECE 4.10 and a comment letter from the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association.
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