County Supervisors Question
Desert Renewable Energy
Conservation Plan

   An aerial view of the 4,000 acre Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, seen in an aerial view above California's Mojave Desert, on February 20, 2014.

Mixed reaction to Supervisor Lovingood's analysis.

Residents in limbo deciphering Lovingood's intentions on siting facilities.

February 11, 2015

    San Bernardino County's Supervisor Robert Lovingood's pressman, Don Holland, provided the following news release on Tuesday, February 10, 2015:

    The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a report outlining concerns over a state and federal plan for renewable energy projects in Southern California.

    First District Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood said the County has numerous concerns about the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, a document prepared by four state and federal agencies.  County concerns range from limiting access to mineral resources, recreational use as well as community and environmental impacts.

    The Board of Supervisors approved a 56-page position paper outlining concerns and asked for changes and clarification before the county could consider supporting the DRECP.  The County's concerns will be sent to the DRECP task force made up of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Energy Commission and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.  More than half of the acreage in the draft DRECP is in San Bernardino County.

    Lovingood called for greater use of distributed generation and prioritizing already-disturbed lands for renewable energy projects, thereby protecting pristine desert.  Lovingood also advocated for mechanisms providing discounted electric rates or rebates for consumers in the High Desert.

    "If you live in the corn belt and you're surrounded by corn fields, your price for corn is going to be very inexpensive.  So it only seems fair that desert residents who bear the brunt of impacts from renewable energy projects should see a similar benefit,"  Lovingood said.

    The supervisor also noted that renewable energy technologies are changing very quickly.

    "Graphine technology is revolutionizing solar technology that could make existing solar panels obsolete," Lovingood said.  "Cutting-edge research is developing films and paints that could turn any man-made surface into a solar panel.  So renewable energy projects in the future will be far more efficient and will need far less land."

    Following a staff presentation on the County position paper, 21 members of the public requested to speak on the issue, with widespread support for the County's position.

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    Lovingood, who has a backgound in mining, naturally has a concern of the DRECP's impact upon the High Desert's mining operations.  The position to protect the county's pristine desert most everyone within his district will applaud.  However, his call for prioritizing already-disturbed lands for renewable energy projects is most disturbing to many High Desert residents.

    This directly aligns with the DRECP's current preferred alternative choice of using previously disturbed land.  The problem with this, is that the limited amount of such land are communities like Newberry Springs; and Lovingood's tradeoff has significant impact between his constituents, large energy production, and environmental protection.

    Lovingood is 100-percent correct that solar generation technology is rapidly changing.  The billions of dollars that have been spent on projects, like Ivanpah, have been with technologies that have been recognized as being obsolete before the projects were completed.

    According to Wikipedia, "In November 2014, Associated Press reported that the (Ivanpah) plant was producing only "about half of its expected annual output."

    The Obama Administration has tried to make renewable energy generation one of the president's top legacies by pouring many billions of taxpayer dollars into construction grants and loans.  Not only has this saddled future generations with Obama's debt, but some residents believe that the ill conceived planning contained in the DRECP to streamline the establishment of future industrial solar facilities has ignored many destructive consequences.

    Lovingood is correct in calling for greater use in distributed generation (rooftop solar) as widespread distributed generation would make the desert's destruction unnecessary.

    Major power corporations like Southern California Edison are no longer generating electrical power due to deregulation.  Edison is solely in the power distribution business which is now a dying species as the technology in local rooftop generation and power storage is rapidly evolving.

    Whether needed or not, the power distribution companies in California are strongly pushing for permission to build billions of dollars worth of transmission lines as their future profits depend upon them; whether they're used or not.

    Unfortunately, for the consumer, as more and more homes go off the grid, the increased costs of paying off and maintaining the massive transmission system will be passed onto the remaining customers; which in many cases will be the low income who can not afford to install distributed solar systems.

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