Green Scene

HOW UTILITY SCALE SOLAR IMPACTS THE LAND

 

Originally Published on the ECOreport

By Roy L Hales

November 13, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - The joint study from Stanford University and UC Riverside reads like a report card. The authors recognized that, “solar energy has one of the greatest climate change mitigation potentials” of all renewable energy sources. It can play a leading role in helping the United States reach its’ goal of reducing emissions to 80% of 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This would require covering a great deal of land surface.  Using current technology, close to 71,428 square kilometres  (44,383 sq.  miles), or an area roughly comparable to South Carolina, could be covered with panels. Rebecca R. Hernandez et al examined more than 160 sites in California to find out how utility scale solar impacts the land.

OUR PLANET, OUR HOME WINNERS ANNOUNCED

East County News Service

November 14, 2015 (La Mesa)--Winners of La Mesa’s K-8 Our Planet, Our Home Environmental Literacy and Art Contest have been announced. Mayor Arapostathis has kindly agreed to hand out the awards at the Block Party on November 14 at 11:15 a.m. at the Farmer’s Market site on Allison Avenue near La Mesa Blvd, and the winning flat artwork will be exhibited for one month in the foyer of the La Mesa Library.

The contest is a cooperative effort of the City's Environmental Sustainability Commission, the La Mesa Urban Trails grant from the County, the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District and the La Mesa Library branch. Sponsorship and prizes for the contest were contributed by SDGE and the Water Conservation Garden.

GOVERNOR ORDERS STATE LAWS SUSPENDED TO COMBAT BARK BEETLES, ALSO SEEKS FEDERAL AID

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: U.S. Forest Service

November 10, 2015 (Sacramento) - Governor Jerry Brown has declared an emergency in California due to a voracious pest – bark beetles that have killed 22 million trees statewide, including vast tracts of forests in San Diego’s East County.  Tens of millions more are at risk of dying if nothing is done – also raising the risk of wildfires.

The governor is seeking federal help and meanwhile has directed state officials, utilities and local governments to take 19 steps to fight the bark beetle infestation. Brown suspended several state laws to allow his orders to be carried out immediately.

SALTON SEA RESTORATION PROJECT BEGINS

 

Hear our recent interview on KNSJ with Bruce Wilcox, manager of Environmental and Salton Sea programs: http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/gye4bao14c/Newsmaker-BruceWilcox-IID-Salto...

 

November 9, 2015 (Salton Sea)--The Salton Sea is an ecological disaster poised to get even worse in three years, when water flowing into the lake from the Colorado River is scheduled to be shut off. Already, the inland lake smells like rotten eggs, contaminated by toxic run-off. As it evaporates, pollutants threaten air quality in both Imperial and San Diego counties. It also threatens the many migratory and waterfowl birds in this rich but vanishing habitat.

But this week, the tide is beginning to turn. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is beginning the first restoration project at the Salton Sea along Red Hill Bay on the southern shore. The project will flood 420 acres of exposed lakebed with water from the nearby Alamo River and the lake, creating wetland habitat for migratory birds and also keeping toxic dust out of the air, while still leaving room for energy companies to tap the region’s vast geothermal potential.

Audio: 

BALLOT INITIATIVE WOULD END PRIVATE UTILITIES, CREATE STATEWIDE PUBLIC UTILITY DISTRICT

 

East County News Service

November 8, 2015 (Sacramento) – California’s Secretary of State has approved signature gathering for a ballot initiative that if approved by voters, would end private utility corporations such as San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric.

Under the measure, the state would buy out the companies and operate a publicly owned California Electrical Utility District that would set electricity rates, build infrastructure and provide power. Bonds or taxes could be levied to fund costs. The measure’s backer, Ben Davis Jr., contends the state can provide power at lower rates for California customers and notes that nationwide, public utilities have 15% lower rates on average than privately owned utilities.

GARDEN BIDS FAREWELL TO EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JOHN BOLTHOUSE

 

Photo:  John Bolthouse, at San Diego Concert Band performance in the Garden

November 7, 2015 (El Cajon)--The Water Conservation Garden today announced the departure of John Bolthouse, who has served as the organization’s Executive Director since February 2012. The Garden’s board of directors extends its deepest gratitude for Bolthouse’s innumerable contributions to The Garden over the years.

“John has truly been a visionary for our organization, leading The Garden into a new era,” said The Garden Board of Directors President Elyssa Robertson. “His planning, forethought and efforts over the past 3 years have provided us with the framework and clear vision for The Garden’s continued success. On behalf of the board of directors and Garden staff, we wish John the absolute best for his next exciting venture.”

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION REJECTS KEYSTONE PIPELINE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 6, 2015 (Washington D.C.) --  Today, President Barack Obama announced that after six years of review,  the U.S. State Department has decided that the Keystone XL  Pipeline “would not serve the national interest of the United States.  I agree with that decision,” the President said.

Obama indicated that the pipeline would be “neither a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.”  He then laid out key reasons why his administration has rejected the pipeline.

First, he indicated, “The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy…What we should be doing is passing a bipartisan infrastructure plan that, in the short term, would create more than 30 times as many jobs per year as the pipeline would, and in the long run, would benefit our economy and our workers for decades to come.”

TISDALE FIRES BACK, DEFENDS NONPROFIT B.A.D.’S EFFORTS TO BATTLE BIG ENERGY PROJECTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 6, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – East County Magazine has twice named Donna Tisdale our “Newsmaker of the Year” for her tireless efforts to battle massive energy projects and stand up for rural residents.  She also received the People’s Mic Award from KNSJ  Radio for her advocacy as a backcountry warrior.

But now the warrior is under attack by a series of articles (1) (2) (3) published by Voice of San Diego.  The articles criticize Tisdale and her nonprofit, Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD) for suits filed in Imperial County over desert solar projects. In essence, the series faults cash settlements paid to farmers and claims eight suits yielded no environmental benefits.

But now Tisdale is firing back in a detailed response that contends VOSD’s stories contain false statements  in a “misinformation campaign” she likens to Big Tobacco and Big Oil’s efforts to mislead the public.  “It is no coincidence that San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E’s) Mitch Mitchell is on the VOSD Board of Directors,” she observes, noting that BAD has challenged numerous SDG&E projects.  She denies personal financial gain alleged by VOSD (which presented zero evidence of such).  While the VOSD article addresses issues in 8 lawsuits not in San Diego County, BAD has filed three times that many (24), many of which did result in big wins for the environment in our region-- or developers backing off projects completely, facts that VOSD failed to report. 

Below is Tisdale’s rebuttal in full:

READER’S EDITORIAL: THE STORY OF A FLORIDA COMPANY TAKEOVER OF JACUMBA’S WATER

 

By Howard W Cook, former chair, Jacumba Sponsor Group

Photo: Lake Jacumba

 

November 1, 2015 (Jacumba Hot Springs)--A massive project poses an unprecedented risk to Jacumba Hot Springs' water supply. 

BACKGROUND

Jacumba Hot Springs is an old town going back to 1860 and blessed with a productive hot spring and several other good wells. It is located 70 miles East of San Diego on Old Highway 80 in a valley spread out on both sides of the border. Its high desert transition zone location at 2800 feet just before nearby Interstate 8 plunges to the desert seem an unlikely place for a water takeover by Nextera, a Florida Green Energy developer.

PLANTSRAVAGANZA! WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN HOSTS FALL PLANT SALE NOV. 7

 

Planstravaganza! Among San Diego County’s Most Diverse Water-Wise Plant Sales; Vendors, Professional Consultations Available

 

October 29, 2015 (Rancho San Diego)--The Water Conservation Garden is hosting its annual Fall Planstravaganza! on Saturday, November 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help San Diegans make the most of the region’s fall-to-spring planting season and save water while they do it.

The event boasts the most diverse drought-tolerant plant sale in San Diego County. Retailers and growers will sell shrubs, trees, perennials, succulents and more, making the event one-stop shopping for fall and winter gardening essentials.  Plants that get planted during the mild San Diego fall planting season will reward gardeners with strong root systems that allow the plants to establish to their potential by the spring, particularly with this year’s upcoming El Nino. 

SOLAR CITY PROGRAMS EMPOWER COMMUNITIES AND HOMEOWNERS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

 

 

Hear our exclusive interview with David Guefen, Solar City in San Diego: http://k003.kiwi6.com/hotlink/p9k7v10vp9/Newsmaker-DavidGuefen-SolarCity_and_SolarFoundation.mp3

October 12, 2015 (San Diego)—Solar City, the largest solar company in the U.S., has launched some of the most ambitious and empowering programs in the solar industry.  The company can even act as your utility company, enabling you to get a solar system for no money down and start saving on your utility bill from day one.   Average savings per home run 20 to 60 percent on utility bills, says David Guefen with Solar City San Diego.

The company is also giving back through programs that provide free solar to schools in impoverished countries, giving free solar power to families in military housing, and offering a rewards program for referrals. (If you buy a system from Solar City and mention East County Magazine, our nonprofit will receive a reward. Just click the ad in this story.)

But the window to go solar with maximum incentives ends December 31st, when a 30% federal tax credit is set to expire or be slashed.

Audio: 

FEINSTEIN HOLDS PUBLIC MEETING ON THREE PROPOSED NATIONAL MONUMENTS IN CA

 

By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service

Photo: Mojave Trails area in the southern California desert. Credit: Bryn Jones

October 22, 2015 (Palm Springs)  -- Senator Dianne Feinstein is drumming up support for three proposed national monuments in the southern California desert by holding a public listening session this afternoon at the Whitewater Preserve near Palm Springs.

U.C. STUDY FINDS MOST UTILITY SOLAR SITES IN CALIFORNIA ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 20, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) –  Increasingly, San Diegans are drawing power from large desert solar facilities built in Imperial County, with similar facilities slated for the farthest east portions of our County in Boulevard and Jacumba.  The projects are being pushed forward to help meet California’s ambitious goal to have 40% of electricity from renewables by 2030 under a new law approved by Governor Jerry Brown.

But now a new study by the University of California, Berkeley finds that reliance on remote solar projects creates environmental problems. 

HERO PROGRAM HELPS HOMEOWNERS SAVE MONEY IN EAST COUNTY, SAN DIEGO

 

 

 

 

 

East County News Service

October 17, 2015 (San Diego's East County) -- New, updated HVAC systems offer ways for homeowners to save energy, and therefor money in their wallets. But some homeowners may avoid updating their systems because they are afraid of what seems like a high cost to install.

Now with the new Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) program, that doesn’t have to be a concern. HERO offers financing for approved energy and water efficient products, as well as renewable energy products, for homeowners in San Diego. With the program, homeowners can get low, fixed-rate financing options and payment plans that can vary from five to 20 years, making it as easy as possible for homeowners to upgrade their heating and air conditioning units and better protect the environment.

SUPERVISORS APPROVE SOITEC’S RUGGED SOLAR PROJECT IN BOULEVARD

 

Photo: SOITEC panel at Newberry Springs, similar to panels approved for Boulevard.

By Miriam Raftery

October 16, 2015 (Boulevard) – By a 4 to 1 vote with only Supervisor Dianne Jacob opposed, the Board of Supervisors this week approved a revised version of the controversial Rugged Acres industrial solar facility and rescinded approval of an earlier plan.

A judge had tossed out the original environmental impact review because massive battery storage facilities were added after public comment was closed.  Supervisors approved a revamped plan with the energy storage facility removed.

Supervisor Jacob stated, “I strongly support solar but I believe it belongs on rooftops of both single family homes and businesses and a solar farm in the right location,” Jacob said. “This project would potentially industrialize our back country which was never meant to be. The project can no longer live up to the promises and major use findings that are needed for approval.”

HUNDREDS PROTEST SDG&E'S ANTI-SOLAR PROPOSAL AT SEMPRA HEADQUARTERS

 

Speakers blast proposed solar fees, defend energy choice against monopoly

October 9, 2015 (San Diego) - San Diego rallied to “SDG&E, Don’t Block the Sun!” on Wednesday, as hundreds gathered to protest San Diego Gas and Electric’s (SDG&E) proposal to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that would cripple rooftop solar power and eliminate customer choice, according to opponents. A crowd of more than two hundred people, including ratepayers, business leaders, a Grammy-winning artist, and the Hip Hop Caucus’ nationwide bus tour, rallied outside Sempra Energy’s headquarters to defend customers’ ability to go solar.

GROUP THAT SUCCESSFULLY SUED SANDAG OVER 2011 TRANSPORTATION PLAN SAYS 2015 PLAN HAS SAME FLAWS

 

Source: Cleveland National Forest Foundation

October 8, 2015 (San Diego)--The Cleveland National Forest Foundation (CNFF) today announced that its attorneys submitted a critical letter to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) on its behalf over SANDAG’s proposed 2015 update to its Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. The letter, which is posted to the CNFF website, makes a strong argument that SANDAG’s 2015 plan is not meaningfully closer to meeting state-mandated greenhouse gas reduction goals than the deeply flawed 2011 plan.

SANDAG BOARD TO CONSIDER APPROVAL OF REGIONAL PLAN ON SUSTAINABILITY OCT. 9

East County News Service

Update October 9, 2015 - SANDAG voted for adoption of the Final San Diego Forward Plan and EIR.

October 6, 2015 (San Diego)--The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Board will consider approval of the Final San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan and its Sustainable Communities Strategy, as well as its  Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR), on October 9. The October 9 Board meeting will begin at 10 a.m. in the SANDAG boardroom on the 7th Floor of 401 B Street, in downtown San Diego.

LINDO LAKES RESTORATION MEETING OCT. 14

 

East County News Service

October 7, 2015 (Lakeside)-- The first in a series of community meetings will be held Wednesday, October 14, 2015, regarding the planned restoration of the west basin of Lindo Lake.

From 6:30 to 8:30  p.m. a consultant  from County Parks and Recreation will be requesting community input on how to proceed with the restoration under the Lindo Lake Basin Improvement Project.  The meeting will be held at the Lakeside Community Center, 9841 Vine Street in Lakeside.

SCENIC HIGHWAY DESIGNATION OF STATE ROUTE 52: SUPPORT LETTERS SOUGHT

 

East County News Service

October 4, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)—Caltrans is weighing whether or not to grant state scenic highway designation of State Route 52 from Mast Boulevard in Santee to Santo Road in San Diego, where the highway passes through Mission Trails Regional Park.  Preserve Wild Santee began seeking the designation in 2012 and the San Diego City Council passed a unanimous resolution in support in 2013, yet Caltrans has not yet taken action.

Save Mission Trails and Preserve Wild Santee are both asking the public to send letters urging support of the scenic highway designation to preserve the natural beauty of this area from projects such a power plant proposal recently withdrawn by the developer.  Save Mission Trails has provided a sample letter that you can sign and send to those listed below.

Note to our readers: Please send us your best photos taken alone highway 52 between Mast and Santos Road! We will publish the most scenic and beauitful photos.

SOITEC SOLAR HEARING OCT. 14

 

Update: The County site now says this item will not be on the agenday Oct. 14.  Check the County Supervisors' agenda for updates.

October 1, 2015 (San Diego)—San Diego Supervisors will hold a hearing on Soitec Solar’s final remaining project in Boulevard on October 14th.  Supervisors will consider a Revised Final Program Environmental Impact Report for the project that can be viewed here: http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/pds/ceqa/Soitec-Solar-RFPEIR.html.   The hearing documents will be posted at http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/cob/bosa.html in advance of the hearing.

ENCHANTED GARDEN GALA OCT. 17

 

September 30, 2015 (Rancho San Diego) -- On Saturday, October 17th, The Garden at Cuyamaca College will once again be transformed into "The Enchanted Garden." Wander a magical path through illuminated gardens as you enjoy ethereal music, delicious, garden-inspired fare and captivating entertainment.

SIERRA CLUB PLANS RALLY TO PROTEST SDG&E OVER SOLAR ROADBLOCKS

 

 

East County News Service

September 26, 2015 (San Diego)—The San Diego Sierra Club plans a rally on October 7th at 12 noon outside Sempra Energy headquarters (488 8th Ave., San Diego) to protest the utility’s actions that environmentalists say are aimed at “crippling solar.”

POWER TOWERS AND WIND TURBINES AS ART?

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Land of Giants sculptural power towers, © Choi+Shine

September 27, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – What if power line towers and wind turbines could be designed to resemble sculptures?  Such efforts are on the horizon, thanks to several innovative designers.

LIGHTS ABOUT TO GO OUT ON AMERICA’S PARKS, BALLFIELDS AND TRAILS

 

Congressional leadership’s refusal to take a vote to continue a critical parks fund means 50 year conservation program could disintegrate, despite support to pass in both chambers

East County News Service

Photo: Saguaro National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

September 26, 2015 (Washington D.C.)--The Land and Waer Conservation Act Fund is set to expire on September 30th if Congress fails to act.  The Republican leadership is blocking a floor vote, despite enough support in both houses to renew the landmark measure.

“Leadership is dithering and deliberately stalling, because if put to a vote, the House would  have the 218 votes needed for  reauthorization of this core conservation program,” said Alan Rowsome with The Wilderness Society, which co-chairs the national Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition. “On top of that, the Senate secured 60 votes for reauthorization back in January. So House  and Senate leadership are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by holding America’s parks, trails, soccer fields and historic sites hostage —when  more than 75% of America disagrees with them.”

SUPERVISORS TO VOTE OCT. 14 ON LILAC HILLS RANCH: OPPONENTS ASK HORN TO RECUSE SELF DUE TO CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

East County News Service

September 26, 2015 (Valley Center) – Supervisors are poised to vote October 14 on whether to approve an amendment to the County’s General Plan to allow construction of Lilac Hills, a project that includes 1,746 homes plus commercial development on 608 acres in rural Valley Center. Current zoning allows only 110 homes on the site.

If approved, the project could set a precedent to waive General Plan requirements countywide.

Now the Cleveland National Forest Foundation has called on Supervisor Bill Horn to recuse himself due to apparent conflicts of interest involving potential increased property value of land he owns nearby.  Horn has asked the state's Fair Political Practices Commission for a legal opinion on whether he must recuse himself, after another activist sent a letter of complaint to the FPPC.

POPE FRANCIS VISITS WHITE HOUSE, PRAISES U.S. ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of the White House

Pope Francis met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, then delivered an address on the White House lawn to a crowd of over 11,000 people, CNN reports.

The Pope called on Christians to be responsible stewards of the earth.  "Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation," he said. "When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change."

COUNTY TO HOLD MEETING SEPT. 24 IN ALPINE ON PROPOSAL TO ALLOW THOUSANDS OF NEW HOMES ON LANDS ADJACENT TO CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 21, 2015 (Alpine)—A proposed Forest Conservation Initiative Lands General Plan Amendment was heard by Supervisors last year, when Supervisors directed staff to work with the Alpine Community Planning Group, U.S. Forest Service and property owners to develop boundaries and scope of work for a special study area. That information will be used to determine land use densities for thousands of acres of private property near or within Cleveland National Forest in the Alpine area, opening the door for major development of lands east and south of Alpine.

On Thursday, September 24, County staff will provide an overview of the draft scope of work for the Special Study at the Alpine Community Planning Group meeting in the Community Center at 1830 Alpine Boulevard.  An agenda will be posted prior to the meeting at: http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/pds/gpupdate/comm/alpine.html

SAN DIEGO COUNTY SUPERVISORS SAY NO SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL

 

Originally Published on the ECOreport

By Roy L Hales

September 17, 2015 (San Diego) - San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors made history today. Californians have never voted on whether to demand the Department of Energy remove nuclear waste. As San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is decommissioned, a toxic waste dump is being built 600 feet from the Pacific Ocean, and roughly the same distance from the I-5. Unless some action is taken, 1,400 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel will be stored there. The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0, to “add to the County’s Legislative Program support for legislation that would remove and relocate outside of the San Diego region the spent nuclear fuel stored at the decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.” San Diego BOS Says NO Spent Nuclear Fuel.

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