The Newberry Springs Community Alliance Blotter on March 8, 2013 ran a
on the Newberry Springs'
Soitec installation of solar equipment
that was far oversized from what was previously publicly revealed during the permit process.
A second follow-up blog
was posted March 13, 2013.
The news blogs were picked up by other media which triggered regional
television seeking-out public officials for comment. The problem resonated elsewhere in the
county; especially in the Lucerne Valley, Joshua Tree, and the Twenty-Nine Palms areas where
other alternative energy projects are threatening rural living.
To their merit, Supervisors Lovingood and Ramos recognized that the siting of
solar plants were becoming a conflict with rural living and environment protection. They
acquired county board approval on June 12, 2013 for a 45-day moratorium on commercial solar
projects. This was followed by an extension to 10 months.
On December 17, 2013, the County of San Bernardino Board gave
to a new solar ordinance that currently is
in protecting the rural living rights of the High Desert residents within unincorporated areas.
The county has acquired a $700,000 Renewable Energy and Conservation Planning
Grant from the California Energy Commission for the development of a new element
(Section) to the county's General Plan dealing exclusively with alternative energy.
With this grant, the county has established the San Bernardino County
Partnership for Renewable Energy & Conservation (SPARC) program; and has
hired a team to prepare the plan and seek the public's input. According to the SPARC team's
with the County they will:
- Build a highly collaborative public outreach system to investigate strategies,
tools, and public support for appropriate renewable energy and conservation.
- Prepare a General Plan Renewable Energy Element that fosters a new era of
strategic renewable energy development consistent with the County's vision and the
State's Renewables Portfolio Standard.
- Encourage diversification of renewable energy types and technologies.
- Refine and integrate the regulatory system and tools to support the County's
vision and element purposes for responsible renewable energy development and
- Include regional and national stakeholders in this process to optimize the
sharing and testing of relevant ideas.
This blog site's analysis, so far, is that the SPARC program is yet
another county scam being purpetrated upon the residents of San Bernardino
County. The outreach of SPARC has fallen flat. The vast majority of
the county's population has no idea what the "Energy Element" is about,
the importance of it, nor when or where the meetings about it are being held.
When the greedy county won't use
a portion of the $700,000 grant for a high profile media outreach and education, you know the fix
is in. That is a great deal of money for what is being done. Where is it going?
As openly stated above, SPARC's agenda is one that "...fosters a new era of
strategic renewable energy development..." They definitely don't want the word to
get out and acquire public opposition.
The county's planning department has had a very strong pro-alternative energy
agenda for years; and the county's planning department's bias fingerprints are all over
SPARC's fostering of the Energy Commission's long-term plans.
The handout workbooks used by SPARC to acquire public input during
the public meetings are worded to railroad a fast track of the California Energy Commission's goals
and that of the county's advancement and continued rapid growth and siting of industrial solar
and wind energy complexes; while it has been clear by High Desert residential input
that the public is tired of the county being unfairly used by the federal and state
governments for their dumping ground for alternative energy industrial projects that are
damaging the desert with negative benefit to the county.
The alternative energy projects are harming the county's tourism
industry by creating eyesores that violate the vast open Western vistas that tourists
from around the world come to see.
This Nerd-thinking of pro-alternative energy is no longer being
accepted by residents who are seeing their electrical energy rates increase and
their standard of living decline. Solar and wind energy are the most expensive
energy to purchase. Edison is proposing an average of over 2-percent increase
per year in their power rates over the next 3-years (6.1-percent); with continued higher power
rates in the coming years as more solar and wind facilities go on-line. This doesn't
include huge transmission and distribution rates increases that are also coming.
Barstow has just lost a proposed 2,000 jobs because of the high
escalating electrical power rates in California. Businesses and jobs are fleeing the
state for manufacturing in other states and China; and for what?
California politicans are stupid! Cleaning the air in
California does nothing as the air is moving globally. California's feel-good
expenditiures of billions-of-dollars for cleaner air is only driving-out jobs and
encouraging places like China to build more dirty coal plants to competitively
acquire California's job losses. Naturally, being in the Northern Hemisphere,
China's dirty air blows easterly to California.
County SPARC Engineering Outcome
As the SPARC's gobbledygook Website states:
"San Bernardino County has long been a leader in renewable energy development and
is home to the first large-scale solar project in the state.
SPARC is the key planning task that will substantially enhance the County's capacity
to attract and regulate appropriate renewable energy development." (Bold emphasis added.)
SPARC is holding a series of 3 workshops in 5 locations in San Bernardino
County. The second of the series has concluded last week. The first round had
only about 82 participants from the five locations. The second series is believed to
be well over twice that of the first as Hesperia in the second round had over 120; yet the
participant draw has been exceptionally poor for a county with a population of over 2-million.
As in the SPARC's public workshop workbooks, and the above bias
pro-solar/wind energy statement, there appears to be no room for the SPARC acceptance of the
overwhelming public's desire for no further growth in renewable energy development. There
is no serious room to promote the county to challenge the state and its Energy Commission; nor
the federal government.
County SPARC is excluding any no or slow growth of continued industrial solar or wind energy
development. In short, the county's SPARC is asking citizens how to best institute the
county's desired pro-solar and wind turbine developments. The county is not listening
to what the residents want.
(The public is) "excited about the potential of renewable energy," stated Abby Woods, SPARC's Lead
at the recent San Bernardino workshop.
Yes, the public is excited, but not how she means it. Anger and
frustration with county government's free give-aways (like Cadiz water) to outside businesses
and overload of solar and wind projects within the High Desert have generated calls for a
Mojave County and backlash upon elected officials.
Through its meetings and Website, SPARC is claiming a prioritizing
of transparency and encouragement of public participation, with: "A variety
of opportunities for input will be provided in an open and ethical manner."
However, actions speak louder than words and the county of San Bernardino's Planning Department
has proven itself over and over as being distrustful; even deceitful. The whole impetus for the Solar
Moratorium and "The Element" is due to the lack of transparency by the Planning
Department and its illegal irregularities.
Under Relationship to Current County Codes, the SPARC Website
openly states, "The County has approved 169 renewable energy projects to date and
currently has 20 more in process. Despite ample experience with renewable technologies,
the County has also outlined substantial weaknesses that inhibit its potential
to encourage and attract renewable energy development." Response: So the county
doesn't have enough solar and wind projects and wants to overcome its weakness to solicit
and acquire more. SPARC is not coming from a neutral position to listen to the public;
but is promoting a hardcore pro-alternative energy strategy.
Overwhelmingly, the public in the High Desert don't want their desert destroyed
by a technology that will be obsolete within a few years; but the public's government wants to
pad its pockets with the money that the decision processes generate. A collision course
is being set.
Dirty Collusion of Agencies to Benefit the Solar Industry.
The SPARC's Website further states:
Relationship to DRECP Process
The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is an effort to protect
plant and wildlife communities while supporting appropriate renewable energy projects.
The DRECP involves a partnership of state, federal, and local agencies, along with industry
and environmental stakeholders. Currently under development, the DRECP will simplify
the permitting process of state and federal wildlife agencies for impacts to endangered
species from compatible renewable energy development. State and federal permitting
agencies will use the DRECP as a resource for state and federal permitting activity.
Recognizing the state and federal focus of the DRECP, the California Energy Commission
(CEC) is seeking to expand local planning and permitting capacity consistent with DRECP
objectives. SPARC is one of several projects funded by the CEC to strengthen the
ability of local jurisdictions to enable and permit appropriate renewable energy that is
compatible with natural resources.
San Bernardino County is seeking to provide continuity between the DRECP and the
SPARC project by convening a DRECP Liaison Group consisting of agency representatives
previously selected by the California Energy Commission to participate in the
Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP)
process. Working with the same agency representatives is intended to maintain as much
consistency as possible and build on DRECP efforts while the County identifies
appropriate renewable energy development for San Bernardino County.
The above is truly scary and glumly for the High Desert. The DRECP's
"objectives" are not about "an effort to protect plant and wildlife"
as is misrepresented.
Rather, it is principally a scheme by the solar and wind industry, with federal and state support,
to preclear environmental hurdles on huge parts of the desert, so that massive solar and wind
projects can be quickly established without much of the environmental regulations that
are currently required. It is to establish a new Western Land Rush for foreign and
national alternative energy investors. This is a collusion that the County of San
Bernardino should be fighting, not participating as a whore in bed.
But then, the residents of the county do not have the funding to compete
with the solar and wind industries in filling the campaign coffers of elected officials.
SPARC's Barstow Meeting
SPARC's Barstow meeting August 26, 2014 drew less than
twenty people which were divided to two tables to review a nine-page Participant Workbook
from which participants were requested to check-off responses to multiple predesigned
questions. Every public participant at this pictured table refused to answer any of the
questions, finding much of the question terminology lacking definitions that left the collection of
responses open to ambiguous interpretation.
This Barstow table apparently didn't recognize the
undefined terminology and answered all the questions.
The other table clearly informed the SPARC presenters
that there was a severe problem with the Participant Workbook. Did the presenters
"Listen" as promised? Apparently not, as there were NO CORRECTIONS to the Participant
Workbook when it was presented to both the following workshops in Herperia and San Bernardino!
Public input is meaningless if ignored.
SPARC's Hesperia Meeting
While the previous Barstow workshop centered on solar, the large August 28, 2014, Hesperia turn-out
was incensed over proposals for wind turbines crowning neighboring hills. As at the Barstow
meeting, strong opposition was voiced over the misleading Participant Workbook; but it was voiced
earlier. As a result, the workbook was scraped to the loud applause of about all of the
participants. A speaking forum was established for the participants.
For those who didn't come early, an overflow crowd met them. An estimated 120 to 130 people
filled the room.
Attending workshop participants lined the walls and filled the entrance hallway
(in background) to the room. As most in the hallway couldn't see or hear or sit, a number
of people arriving on time or late, left within minutes of arrival due to a lack of accommodations.
John Coffey, Newberry
Springs resident and Democrat candidate for California's 33rd Assembly seat, speaks before the
SPARC audience in Hesperia.
SPARC's San Bernardino Meeting
The SPARC August 29, 2014 meeting in the city of San Bernardino
was lightly attended by about 10 participants that included a representative from So. Cal. Edison,
the BLM, two labor union representatives, and two pro-industry businessmen.
The SPARC public input meetings appear to be a malicious deception. If the county was truly
interested in the public's input, it would be reaching out to the public for representatives to
assist in the actual collection, analyzation, and implementation of the public's input into a written
ordinance. The current lack of total transparency and lack of open public involvement in
all aspects of the Element's design is leading to a greater distrust of county
government. Corruption tends to fester where there is a lack of full transparency.