Posted: March 24, 2019
Spiraling out of control.
On March 15, 2019, the Draft Environmental Impact Report was released
for the 3,500-acre Daggett Solar Power 1 project. The report is massive and the county's
Land Use Services is only allowing the minimum 45-days for the public's review and written
submission of objections.
The project has many negative impacts for the Silver Valley,
especially Newberry Springs which will suffer higher incidents of health issues
resulting from increases of PM10 silica dust, property value
devaluation, visual valley blight that will hinder economic development,
a destruction of the rural residential character that will lead to a further
decrease in population, a dwindling in school enrollments, and a
negative impact upon the surrounding environment.
While Daggett Solar Power 1 has a number of conflicts
with the county's
and the California Public Resources Code
that could stop the project, the conflicts
must be properly presented in a legal form to withstand a legal review. Land Use
Services has already exposed its bias by circumventing many of the project's obstacles
by declaring them unsubstantial and assigning them a negative declaration.
Solar Power 1 is a multi-billion dollar project that has a great
deal of political and industrial clout behind it. A part of that power is
Land Use Services headed by Terri Rahhal, LUS department director.
Bungling Neanderthal thinking.
Newberry Springs has been exceptionally stupid in the manner that
it has handled the Solar Power 1 project. The project has been known for over a year
and the community has intentionally ignored the predictable Draft EIR.
In January 2018, Ted Stimpfel, a community activist, requested the
Newberry CSD to immediately release Kiewit Pacific funds to hire the professional
assistance necessary to protect Newberry Springs. Being ignored by the board, he then
attended the next five monthly board meetings to repeat his request. Thereafter, he
periodically voiced his concern to the board. Meanwhile, public news
were published. Rather than taking prudent action, the Newberry CSD board
has made lame excuses to do nothing.
In August 2018, the board did send a letter to a freebie attorney to inquire
if the Kiewit Pacific funds could be used to fight solar. The letter sent to
the attorney, however, was unprofessionally drafted garbage which resulted in legal
advice that was garbage. Garbage in, garbage out!
The resulting letter,
posted on the Newberry CSD's website makes it clear that the attorney was given
the misconception that the funds were given to the CSD and that the funds were
A simple and diligent investigation by the board would have revealed that
the private funds were not given to the CSD but to the directors in a fiduciary
trustee agreement to distribute on the behalf of the prevailing private citizens in a
lawsuit that the CSD had minimum involvement. The citizens expressed that they
wanted the funds to be maintained separately from the CSD's treasury which would not
limit the use of the funds under LAFCO.
This agreement between the citizens and the CSD board is further
evidenced by the CSD itself conducting a survey where the CSD provided about a dozen
suggestions for expending the funds that are beyond its LAFCO scope.
With Newberry under the ax, the Newberry CSD board with the private funds
readily available have repeatedly failed to use the funds to protect Newberry.
Through malfeasance, the board has never bothered to take the steps with an open mind to
understand the funds nor their fiduciary duties in managing the funds. Consequently,
the expertise that would now greatly assist Newberry's survival (as we know it now) has been
As previously stated in a July 2018 news blog:
The Board lacks professional business minded people.
Newberry Springs is in critical need of professional assistance
to properly address the hazardous advancement of utility-scale solar impacting the
community. Professional leadership when recognizing an urgent need, finds remedies.
The CSD Board is anything but professional. Critical days (now many months)
in properly fighting the proposed solar intrusion have been lost (thanks to Springer,
Deel, Paulsen, and Clark).
On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, Ted Stimpfel sent an e-mail to the
Newberry CSD board members requesting that the release of the Kiewit Pacific funds be
considered at the next monthly board meeting on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. The
matter warrants an emergency session, yet, the Newberry CSD board, made up of
President Robert Springer, and members Paula Deel, Vickie Paulsen,
Jack Unger, and Larry Clark have failed to take prudent action in
defense of the Newberry community.
Even General Manager, Jodi Howard, failed to place the letter
into the general meeting's public record Web docket for the meeting. As the board and
Howard are apparently trying to hide their gross inactions from the community, the
letter is being reproduced here:
This news blog isn't meant as a "rant" but as an illustration that
despite over a year of opportunities to get a very critical matter straight, the
Newberry CSD board has repeatedly demonstrated that the board members are severely
On the sunnier side.
The proposed Daggett 1,200-acre Sunpower Solar project, immediately
west of Newberry Springs, has been officially canceled. The developer is reported
to be attempting to sell the land, ideally to another solar developer.
Although a new solar developer will be now subject to Policy 4.10, Policy 4.10 will have
little impact as much of the land isn't zoned Rural Living that Policy 4.10 covers.
The three other proposed solar projects between Nebo and Newberry Springs,
the 3,500-acre Daggett Solar Power 1 project, the 33.9-acre Daggett Solar 33, and
the 133.9-acre Daggett Solar 66 are all still pending.
No projects which would cause significant environmental effects should be
approved as proposed if there are feasible alternatives or mitigation measures that
would lessen those effects. (Cal. Public Resources Code § 21000-21004)
County Supervisors adopt Policy 4.10.
Union solar installers, mostly in blue, grouped
together during the county Board of Supervisors' hearing on Policy 4.10.
The hearing was held on February 28, 2019, in a temporary hearing room while
the principal hearing chamber is remodeled.|
The question of how business-oriented Supervisor Robert
Lovingood would represent his constituents on Policy 4.10 was pleasantly
revealed as Lovingood strongly backed the residents' supported policy.
The only disappointment of the meeting was that the Supervisors
did not support (as expected) the recision of grandfathering projects that filed
applications since August 8, 2017. Newberry's Ted Stimpfel and two other
speakers advocated for the recision. The grandfathering-in was specifically
set in place by Terri Rahhal of Land Use Services at the Board's hearing
on August 8, 2017.
While the much-heralded Policy 4.10 is a very important
element to the Development Code to protect communities from rampant utility-scale
solar development, it may have limited protection for Newberry Springs.
Policy 4.10 only impacts Rural Living zoned properties and
communities that have community plans. Newberry Springs does have a
community plan that was submitted to the County years ago but the plan was
never processed by the County for approval. An interesting legal
question may arise as to whether County approval is necessary to kick-in
Policy 4.10, especially since the County never rejected the plan.
Supervisor Robert Lovingood is
shown on a screen during the Supervisors' hearing on Policy 4.10 on February 28, 2019.