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.

Pisgah substation.

    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 project.

    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 construction years.

    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."