Newberry will rise and fall
with solar energy construction.
Posted August 15, 2011
K Road Power, the principle developer of the proposed photovoltaic power site
east of Newberry Springs at the Pisgah electric substation, has publicly announced an agreement
that it will use union labor in constructing its Calico Solar facility.
Earlier this year, Gerrit Nicholas, a managing partner of K Road Power, stated
during a community meeting at the Newberry Springs Community Center that K Road Power was expecting
to sign a union labor agreement; however, at the time an agreement had not been forged.
Use of union labor is expected to sharply raise the labor costs and shift
labor sourcing to San Bernardino and Las Vegas union halls instead of the local area residents
for the estimated 700 construction jobs. Some of the rise in costs is expected to be
passed-on to the power rate-payers.
The original applicant to build upon the Pisgah-area site, Tessera Solar, had not agreed
to use union labor. As a result, the unions poured tens of thousands of dollars into
California Unions for Reliability Energy (CURE) to "cure" the non-union labor status of the
CURE appears to work as an extortion arm for the unions. It files legal challenges
opposing large labor projects which refuse to enter into labor agreements. CURE quickly
filed challenges against Tessera Solar, and with the Sierra Club, placed time consuming and costly
legal obstacles against Tessera Solar obtaining necessary permits. As Tessera's project became
stalled in a quagmire of costly procedures and lost time, Tessera sold the project to K Road Power.
Now that K Road Power has apparently caved-in to the extortion and has
agreed to the unions' labor demands, CURE is expected to flip and withdraw its opposition to
the photovoltaic site being built.
That would leave the Sierra Club, and more recently BNSF, as the remaining major
legal opponents to the development.
With the estimated 700 jobs being created about 15-minutes east of Newberry
Springs, the local community is expected to experience an influx of temporary workers. A
small percentage of this transient force is expected to settle their RV and mobile homes into
the local RV parks and the vacancy factor of the local rental homes should decline for the few
Ted Stimpfel of the Community Alliance states that such construction projects,
while good for a community's economy in the shortrun, are not sustainable. "This project will
be a Boom and Bust event for Newberry Springs," states Stimpfel. "Outside
construction workers are hired per project and they will move-on after their specific job is
completed. The idea being promoted by a local realtor that a number will adopt Newberry
Springs for their permanent residence is not being realistic."