Newberry CSD Struggles
With Solar Development

Newberry CSD's February 2018 General Meeting.

Solar Special Meeting to be scheduled.
Meanwhile, critical time necessary to
prepare a solar defense continues to be lost.

Posted: March 2, 2018

Getting a better understanding.

    The Board of Directors of the Newberry CSD held their monthly General Meeting on Tuesday, February 28.  The meeting illustrated a growing understanding by the Board of the dire implications of the proposed Newberry Springs ("Newberry") solar development and the limited amount of time that the community of Newberry has to prepare a critical defense.

    During the Public Comment period, Ted Stimpfel of the Newberry Springs Community Alliance ("Community Alliance") advocated again for the immediate release of the remaining Kiewit Pacific funds for the defense against utility-scale solar development.  Stimpfel stated that time is quickly running out to effectively use the funds and that the solar development is rapidly progressing.

    Stimpfel emphasized that the Kiewit Pacific funds were not given to the CSD to use in its general operations.  The funds were given to the CSD by the successful Appellants in an action against Kiewit Pacific that resulted in a $350,000 cash settlement and that the funds are a trust fund managed separately by the Board.

Director Shaw supports the use of the trust fund.
Others cautiously stall causing delay.

    Director Robert Shaw spoke in support of the Kiewit Pacific funds being utilized to fight utility-scale solar.  Director Larry Clark, an advocate of utility-scale solar sites being built in Newberry, raised the fear that the CSD could be sued if it released public funds against the residents supporting solar development.

    Board chairman Robert Springer and a couple of the other directors immediately jumped in with the same concern obviously still not grasping that the separate Kiewit Pacific trust funds are not the CSD's public funds.  Also, they ignored that the CSD is a governmental entity that has broad discretionary protection under state law; and the fact that the CSD Board is acting as a trustee for the separate funds that are not regulated by LAFCO.

    Also being disregarded is that fact that the community residents against utility-scale solar would probably number an estimated 2,000 versus a few farmers and a couple of the water well drillers.  Any legal action against the CSD by a solar development supporter would likely be stricken on demurrer as totally frivolous.  The CSD holds a clear legal duty to represent the majority of the community.

    Furthermore, the CSD is more likely to be sued if it doesn't release the funds to protect the community.  The Appellants in the Kiewit Pacific matter agreed that the CSD would manage the disbursement of the money for the best benefit of the community on the behalf of the Appellants.  As written in a previous news blog, through malfeasance for over 14-years, the CSD has been direlict in its management and dispersement of the trust funds.

    Through litigation, the CSD can now be held liable for a breach of its fiduciary duty to disperse the funds.  As the duty is fiduciary, punitive damages could result.

    As the CSD has previously handled the trust funds loosey-goosey with no credible accounting, and missing funds cannot be legally accounted for, the legal outcome is predictable.

NSEDA's President states his demand.

    At the last Newberry Springs Economic Development Association (NSEDA) meeting on February 20, 2018, President Paul Deel insisted that before any Kiewit Pacific trust funds would be earmarked for defending Newberry, that a budget plan must be first developed to detail how the money would be spent.  His wife seemed to concur.

    Yes, Paul's wife is CSD Director Paula Deel, but for Paul Deel to demand something that is solely the prerogative of the CSD Board is so wrong, even if Paul might be the man behind the CSD Board's Deel cartel.  His demand further exhibits a lack of understanding the procedural process of preparing a defense.

Play or fold.

    Contesting the utility-scale solar projects is something like a high stakes poker game.  To play for a chance to win, you bring your money to the table.  No show of money, no seat.  And no guarantee of what it will cost you to either win or lose.

    Another analogy is that Newberry is like a patient that has parasitic cancer attaching itself which if left untreated, will deform the rural character of the community.  With that as an illustration, one can not prepare one's own early budget plan to take to a doctor for a cure.

    One logically needs to first pay a specialist (and possibly a second opinion) to determine the exact problem and to then determine the best course of action.  Only until the problem has been properly identified and analyzed by a specialist can a course of remedy be plotted and the costs roughly estimated.  Until then, one doesn't know if the cost will be for an aspirin or a brain transplant.

On a late February afternoon with moderate wind, sand blows across the site of the proposed Newberry Springs solar project.  Disturbance of the soil by the proposed solar project is expected to greatly exacerbate the crystalline silica health hazard.  The photograph was taken facing north on Quarry Road.

Backstabbing betrayal by Lovingood and Ramos.

    Both Supervisors Bob Lovingood and James Ramos have solar developments targeting their districts.  They teamed up to remove Policy 4.10 from the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element last August.  Policy 4.10 would have protected their constituents from utility-scale solar development in their communities.

    The Supervisors removal of Policy 4.10 was obviously done to allow time for both the Daggett and the Newberry Springs solar projects to later file their applications and for the projects to be grandfathered in.

    It is interesting to note that at the CSD meeting, Lovingood's field representative Bea Lint, and policy advisor Don Holland, both attended.  Lint stated that Terri Rahhal, the county's Land Use Services director had also wanted to attend but was ill.  This exceptionally high profile of county attention to a Newberry CSD meeting is so unusual that it smells of county intelligence gathering.  A large amount of money is involved.

    The two proposed solar farms in the Silver Valley are huge and alone will comprise nearly the same amount of land as the five-and-a-half square mile Ivanpah facility near Stateline.  More solar farms in Newberry and Daggett are expected to follow.

What's your price?

    Letters of opposition being sent to these Supervisors are beneficial; however, letters will not stop the developments as the developers have already pocketed the two Supervisors.  The two projects' 4,700-plus acres of development represents a minimum price tag of over two billion dollars, so what was the Supervisors' reward for selling-out their constituents?

    With the solar developers having already bagged the Supervisors, the only way to now stop the solar development madness is through the legal process.

A course of action.

    At this stage, the Community Alliance believes that the best course of action for Newberry is to fight both the Daggett and the Newberry solar developments together.  The reason for both is because the Daggett development will have a substantial negative impact upon the downwind Newberry residents.  The Daggett project will be built close to Minneola Road and Daggett's visual blight will negatively impact Newberry's economic development.

    For an initial defense, Newberry should try to protect itself under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and numerous federal statutes that the proposed projects trespass upon.

    The Community Alliance would like to have the Kiewit Pacific funds immediately allocated for the solar purpose so that the Community Alliance's CEQA expert could be hired.  This is someone who is exceptionally well qualified.  For five years, he was involved in the major CEQA rule-making revisions in the late 90's under Pete Wilson and Grey Davis, and he has been actively involved as a CEQA expert since then.

    This individual thoroughly understands CEQA and his analysis and guidance would be highly beneficial for the Newberry community.  Funding is needed for his time, others that he may possibly want to hire, and costs associated with miscellaneous work products and expert testimonies at hearings.

Meanwhile, the CSD's solar action.

    One of the agenda items of the CSD Board's February meeting was discussion and possible action on forming a group for addressing the Newberry solar project.

    With the directors jittery over Director Clark's lawsuit comment, the Board will be questioning an attorney over the liability issue and calling for a Special Meeting to possibly appoint a solar committee with the possible appointment of two CSD directors and possible community members.  Hopefully, whoever contacts the attorney will effectively convey the correct background on the Kiewit Pacific trust funds.  As it stands, some still appear confused which may influence the attorney's understanding and response.

    For any committee to be effective, the Board will need to cut loose the Kiewit Pacific fund.  As the trust is outside of the LAFCO powers, does not involve public taxpayer funds, and is a separate trust, the Newberry CSD Board can release the funds at any time.  Will they do it while there is still some time left to effectively use it?

    A new nonpartisan association is forming to address the Renewable Energy projects in the Silver Valley.  Should you or your organization wish to become an active participating steward in saving the Silver Valley, please submit your name and/or that of your organization, e-mail address and phone number to:

Related past news blogs:
Newberry CSD's inaction threatens community. - 2/24/18
Daggett embraces solar development. - 2/21/18
Newberrians attend solar health hazard meeting. - 2/16/18
Communities collaborating for protection. - 2/11/18
Newberry CSD falls short against solar opposition. - 2/4/18
Bombshell Transformation To Hit The Silver Valley - 1/28/18
Supervisors Are Engineering Destruction Of The Desert - 1/25/18
Corrupt County Leaders Are Reshaping Newberry - 12/3/17
Lovingood Continues Damaging Votes - 11/6/17

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