December 9, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--Corporations behind the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility and the failed Quail Brush gas-fired power plant in San Diego are being sued in federal court amid revelations of bribery allegations and a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
December 9, 2014 (Washington D.C.)--Installation of solar photovoltaic energy in the United States grew 41 percent last year – with 1,354 megawatts added last year, the Solar Energy Industries Association reports. The U.S. now has a whopping 16.1 gigawatts of photovoltaic, plus another 1.4 gigawatts of concentrating solar power capacity.
December 7, 2014 (San Diego)—By a 20 to 1 vote, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has voted to appeal a ruling on its 2050 Regional Transportation Plan to the California Supreme Court. Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery cast the lone vote against filing the appeal.
California Gnatcatcher, Photo via Wikimedia Commons
East County News Service
December 4, 2014 (San Diego)—San Diego County Supervisors voted this week to approve purchase of 345 acres of open land to extend trail systems and to protect habitat for the endangered California gnatcatcher.
“Without significant input from the public, from you, this juggernaut will proceed relentlessly, sacrificing millions of acres of desert habitat, wasting precious groundwater, degrading air quality, and “taking” endangered species and other wildlife.”—David Garmon, Borrego Springs, petition author
By Miriam Raftery
November 28, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Environmentalists have launched a petition at Moveon.org asking the public to sign in opposition to the Desert Renewable Energy Plan, which would open up millions of acres of California deserts to industrial-scale wind and solar projects. Instead, environmental leaders want the California Energy Commission to do an analysis of rooftop solar as an alternative.
The petition states: “More renewable energy is available from rooftop solar in San Diego and Los Angeles Counties than will be derived from the siting of utility-scale generating facilities on 2 million acres of desert habitat called for in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. The unintended consequences of utility-scale facilities in the desert are becoming known and are unacceptable--dust storms in Lancaster, midair incineration of birds at Ivanpah, depletion of scarce groundwater in Borrego Springs.”
November 26, 2014 (San Diego)--It has been nine months since California approved a $10 million reserve fund, to reimburse mortgage holders if homeowners with Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) default. (The residential program has been moving in slow motion since 2010, when, concerned about the priority PACE loans had over mortgages, the Federal Housing Finance Agency ordered the government-sponsored enterprises to not underwrite mortgages for homes with PACE loans.)
November 25, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – When a multi-ton blade fell off a wind turbine at Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility, the company claimed such accidents are rare. Now another Pattern Energy wind project has hurled off dangerous debris. This time, a turbine in Canada hurled off an 18-inch chunk of serrated blade, which flew 400 feet before landing in a field, the Chatham Voice reported.
November 26, 2014 (San Diego)--The holiday season is full of celebrations, comfort food and gifts. Along with the holiday spirit comes increased waste. Household waste increases by more than 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Knowing how to reduce waste can save money and conserve natural resources and landfill space.
A proposed industrial solar farm in Lakeside’s scenic El Monte Valley is stirring up controversy. Property owner David Pressman/OCI Solar Lakeside has proposed to build a 40-acre solar photovoltaic project with approximately 8,500 solar panels on El Monte Road. OCI is a Korean company with holdings in the U.S.
A hearing on the plan is set for December 3rd at 6:30 p.m. before the Lakeside Community Planning Group at the Lakeside Community Center.
“Everyone I have talked to too is against it for many reasons.” says photographer Billy Ortiz. “My reason is El Monte Valley is and should always be a scenic corridor, period.” He posted photos of the proposed site and drew some strong responses.
November 25, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – California’s Legislature recently passed a bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown to ban plastic grocery bags starting next year. But now out-of-state plastic manufacturing companies are trying to block that ban with a ballot initiative.
November 24, 2014 (San Diego)—California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal has confirmed that the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) broke state law with a long-range transportation plan for our region that failed to take steps to reduce greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.
“It's a horror beyond words; something you have to live to understand. Something must be done to stop the noise.” – Ocotillo resident Parke Ewing
November 14, 2014 (Ocotillo) – Residents in Ocotillo say that during windy conditions in early November, noise from wind turbines is making their lives unbearable.
Jim Pelley captured the loud noise on videotape, juxtaposed with footage of Pattern Energy’s Glenn Hodges selling the project to supervisors in Imperial Valley by claiming that noise would not be an issue due to setbacks. “The project was sold on the understanding to be five miles from the community of Ocotillo,” Pelley wrote on a Youtube post. “We have turbines as close as 1/2 mile, we are now forced to live with the horrible noise of 112 turbines when the wind blows.”
His neighbor, Parke Ewing, says his complaints to Imperial County and Bureau of Land Management officials, as well as Pattern Energy, have fallen on deaf ears, with no meaningful responses.
November 14, 2014 (Sacramento)--In response to public requests, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will extend the public comment period for the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for 45 days. The comment period, originally scheduled to close on January 9, 2015, will be extended through February 23, 2015.
Drought got you down? Need garden tips, conservation insights and ideas for drought-resistant plants to make your fall landscape more beautiful with less water?
Get help at Ask the Experts, an event set for Saturday, November 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon. Presentations and exhibits include a home compost workshop, toss the turf class, life after lawns, horticultural displays, how to hire a landscape contractor and save money, ask the designers, personalized landscape design consultations, free garden tours, and shopping for water-saving plants.
Photo from San Diego's Changing Climate: A Regional Wake-Up Call
By Jeffrey Meyer, Poway, SanDiego350 volunteer
November 13, 2014 (San Diego)--With the recent release of a new United Nations report on the global impact of climate change, we are given still another chilling warning that we are facing catastrophe unless we accelerate efforts to confront this crisis. The release of this report comes on the heels of a court decision rejecting the San Diego County climate action plan and the ongoing development of this state-mandated plan by the City of San Diego. It raises the stakes for everyone and compels us to reach higher and dig deeper for community solutions to this crisis.
November 11, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) –Owners of Ivanpah, the world’s biggest concentrated solar energy facility, borrowed $1.6 billion from the federal government to build the project in the Mojave Desert. Now they are seeking a $539 million federal grant to pay off that debt. In other words, they want taxpayers to pay off their loan that was also funded by U.S. taxpayers.
November 12, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Viejas Chairman Anthony Pico met with Steve Black, a senior counselor to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, on February 28, 2012 and sent Black a letter on March 5, 2012 asking him to visit Ocotillo to address tribal concerns over desecration of cultural resources from the proposed Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility (which was since approved and built). Donna Tisdale, then with Protect Our Communities, has documents showing Black was also involved with federal approval of the controversial Tule Wind project, fielding requests from Iberdrola Renewables to help gain approval of the project in East County despite concerns about eagles.
Neither Pico nor Tisdale had any idea that Black was dating an energy company lobbyist at the time – or that he sought to gain a job as chief executive officer of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the wind industry's trade group, while still employed at the Department of the Interior. But an investigation by the Department of Interior's Inspector General has raised these concerns and more.
November 11, 2014 (Jacumba) – Consultants hired by renewable energy companies in recent years have consistently claimed that there are no golden eagles in the Jacumba-Boulevard Planning areas, where several major energy projects are proposed or planned.
But two separate residents of Jacumba now report seeing a pair of golden eagles in the past 10 days—including on documented with a photograph. The first sighting was over the town itself and the second was directly across from the Jacumba Solar project and a proposed power line tie-in to the ECO substation.
November 10, 2014 (Alpine) – The Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) and the Endangered Habitats Conservancy are looking for volunteers to help restore the watershed along Alpine Creek and Alpine Boulevard. On Saturday, November 15th and 22nd, volunteers will help plant native trees, shrubs, and ground-cover species to enhance native habitat along this important wildlife corridor through Alpine. Here are details provided by the BCLT:
November 8, 2014 (La Mesa) – Starting Monday, November 10, Center City Shell at 3810 Massachusetts Avenue will be offering up an ethanol fuel blend made from corn by Pearson Fuel. The E85 Flex Fuel will be sold for a special rate of just 85 cents a gallon on opening day, when Miss California will be on hand for a ribbon cutting.
Photo: High-voltage Sunrise Powerlink tower by Lake Jennings
November 7, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has applied for a master permit to construct power line replacement projects in Cleveland National Forest. Now the Cleveland National Forest Foundation has submitted formal comments objecting to the plan.
According to the Foundation, SDG&E’s project fails to assure that the state’s renewable energy mandate of 33% renewable by 2020 will be met; the project aims to increase energy project four-fold without proposing any reductions in dirty energy sources.
November 7, 2014 (San Diego)—The County’s climate action plan lacks teeth to assure that greenhouse gas emission goals will be met, California’s 4th District Court of Appeal has ruled. The Appellate Court upheld a San Diego County judge’s ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club argued that the county’s reliance on voluntary measures and lack of clear deadlines were not enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the targeted amounts by 2020. The Court also noted that the County rejected mitigation proposed by the Sierra Club without valid reasons.
Photo: This house rocks! Boulder in center of Jamul home absorbs heat by day and gives off warmth by night.
East County News Service
November 6, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—The San Diego Green Building Council will hold its Green Homes Tour this Sunday, November 9th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour features innovative, sustainably designed homes throughout San Diego County. There is a $5 fee for non-members. Several East County homes are on the tour.
November 4, 2014 (Cleveland National Forest)—U.S. Forest Service officials have signed a Record of Decision for the Cleveland National Forest Land Management Plan Amendment that gives wilderness protection to an additional 43,000 acres in the forest, at least temporarily.
October 28, 2014 (Ocotillo) – Residents in the southern portion of San Diego and Imperial Counties have voiced surprise at seeing massive wind turbines sprouting up just south of the border. The La Rumerosa wind facility in Mexico is visible across our region – causing consternation in some quarters.
October 25, 2014 (San Diego) Representatives of state and federal agencies held a public meeting in San Diego at the Hilton in Mission Valley to present the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) to citizens.
The plan, which covers 22 million acres of deserts in California, has the following stated goals according to the program:
Photo: Wind turbines dwarf homes and barns in rural Illinois
October 17, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--Neighbors battling wind energy projects locally just got some new ammunition in two separate cases.
In Wisconsin, the Brown County Board of Health this week voted to declare Duke Energy’s Shirley Wind energy project a human health hazard to residents, visitors, workers and other people up to six miles away from the wind turbines. Here in San Diego’s East County and neighboring Imperial County, wind turbines have been built within a half mile of homes and new setbacks proposed remain much less than six miles, raising questions over potential dangers to residents if those projects are built.
In Vermont, a federal district court has found that plaintiffs provided ample evidence to allow a private nuisance claim over the Sheffield Wind Project to proceed in court for creating unreasonable noise.
October 17, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—The most controversial project in memory in East County was the construction of the 500kV Sunrise Powerlink, which was built despite objections of a coalition representing 79,000 people--though the route was changed amid public outcry.
Now, a new set of 500 kV power lines are proposed through San Diego’s East County and Imperial County as part of the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) which is currently available for public review and comment at www.drecp.org. The plan aims to open 22 million acres up for energy development including vast swaths in our region.
October 10, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – With consumer activists clamoring for his impeachment, California Public Utilities Chairman Michael Peevey has announced he will not seek reappointment when his term ends at year’s end. His replacement will be appointed by Governor Jerry Brown.
October 6, 2014 (Sacramento)--The western population of the yellow-billed cuckoo will be protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced. The Service determined that listing a distinct population segment of the bird in portions of 12 western states, Canada and Mexico is warranted. In the U.S., the listing will cover parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
Since 1980, nine sightings of the yellow-billed cuckoo have been made in San Diego County, though no nests have been found since the 1930s, according to the San Diego Bird Atlas Project at San Diego State University. Locally the birds have been spotted from May to August, most commonly in stands of riparian willows and cottonwoods.