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Solar Energy Plants Near Manzanar on Hold

By May 5, 2015No Comments

By Charles James, contributor

Two proposed photovoltaic (PV) solar energy plants in close proximity to the Manzanar National Historic Site in Inyo County, Calif., have been dropped, at least for now, much to the relief of the projects’ opponents. The Manzanar Committee, the Owens Valley Committee and the National Park Service, which operates the historic site, strongly opposed the plan to build a solar ranch adjacent to the former American concentration camp site.

The 200-megawatt Northland Power Independence, LLC Solar Project group has dropped its application with the County of Inyo Planning Department after a recent change in the county’s general plan imposed restrictions on solar energy development.

The 1,200-acre, 200-megawatt solar power plant proposed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, known as the Southern Owens Valley Solar Project, has been placed on hold for basically the next 10 years. The announcement, made at the 46th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on April 25 by Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey, drew applause and cheers from the crowd in attendance there.

When contacted for comment after the project east of Manzanar was removed from the California Priority Queue Transmission List on March 15, LADWP spokesperson Amanda Parsons responded that the department “reserves the right to renew exploration into the SOVSR at a later date. LADWP will continue to examine the viability of this renewable project for a commercial operation date estimated to be between 2024-27.”

With California Gov. Jerry Brown recently announcing a 40 percent state renewables goal by 2030, and later possibly increasing the mandate to as high as 50 percent, it would appear that the LADWP appears to be keeping its options open for future development.