Closure of popular recreation facility among options
By Miriam Raftery
November 3, 2013 (La Mesa) – At its meeting on Wednesday, November 6, Helix Water District will vote on whether to have staff prepared detailed reports on four options for the future of Lake Jennings. Those options include:
- close the lake to the public and decommission campgrounds and fishing facilities,
- limit public access to only hiking, picnicking and fishing- -but the lake would no longer be stocked with fish and campgrounds would be decommissioned,
- Maintain camping and fishing and invest $1,600,000 to $3,600,000 in renovations, or
- Create a master plan for renovation and expansion based on the 2007 Lake Jennings Campground Master Plan at a cost of $8 million to $15 million, with additional expenses for permitting, environmental impact and mitigation.
Could Vestas' fire-prone turbines be installed in East County?
By Miriam Raftery
October 31, 2013 (Netherlands) – Two young mechanics, ages 19 and 21, died when a fire broke out in a wind turbine where they were performing routine maintenance. The tragedy occurred at Deltawind’s Piet de Wit wind farm in the Netherlands, but highlights the hazards associated with fires caused by wind turbines.
According to the Netherlands Times, “because of the height, the fire department initially had trouble extinguishing the fire in the engine room.” The fire started in the afternoon, but it took until evening for a special team of firefighters to arrive and ascend with a large crane.
By Miriam Raftery
October 25, 2013 (Ocotillo) – Wind turbines in Ocotillo went offline on October 21 for several days due to SDG&E maintenance on Sunrise Powerlink, according to Matt Dallas with Pattern Energy . Flashing red lights on the turbines that normally warn aircraft of the 500-foot-tall structures have also been dark, raising questions of safety for pilots at the site near the Borrego airport.
October 21, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Two scoping meetings are planned this week in Julian and Alpine for the public to obtain information and voice views on a proposal by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) that includes Cleveland National Forest lands. SDG&E wants to combine over 70 existing special use permits for electric facilities in the forest into one Master Special Use Permit. In addition, SDG&E wants to replace some power lines and distribution liens both inside and outside the forest including fire hardening, relocation and undergrounding of certain facilities.
Areas impacted include the vicinity of Descanso, Campo, Pauma Valley, Santa Ysabel, and Warner Springs.
October 17, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--California State Parks (CSP) invites you to the third public meeting for the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park General Plan. The primary purpose of the meeting is to receive your thoughts, ideas and concerns about the Preferred Alternative Plan and General Plan proposals which will be presented at the meeting. View the agenda here.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 12 from 6-8 p.m. at the Marriott San Diego Mission Valley Cabrillo Room, 8757 Rio San Diego Drive, San Diego 92108.
By Paul Kruze
“The way everything has turned out, the energy hogs are being rewarded…Now, no matter how much you conserve energy, no matter how much you generate, the residential ratepayers are stuck with this.” – Pete Hasapopoulos, San Diego Sierra Club
October 11, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) -- Amid a chorus of cheers and jeers, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 327 reflecting the first change to electric rates and how major power utilities account for residential rooftop solar systems.
Introduced by Fresno Democrat Party Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, the legislation directs the California Public Utilities Commission to design a new net metering program that would take effect within four years. The bill also gives the CPUC authority to require utilities to source more than 33 percent of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar. In addition, the new law will replace the electric rate restrictions adopted by California during the state’s energy deregulation crisis in 2000.
Dorcas E. Utter Butterfly Pavilion and diverse plant sale at Water Conservation Garden
October 11, 2013 (Rancho San Diego) -- Considering fall and winter as prime gardening months would be scoffed at in many parts of the United States, but not in San Diego, with its Mediterranean climate characterized by mild-to-cool wet winters, and warm-to-hot dry summers. The Fall Planstravaganza!, held at the Water Conservation Garden from 9am-4pm on Saturday, November 2, 2013, helps San Diegans make the most of the region’s fall-to-spring planting season and save water while they do it.
By Miriam Raftery
October 9, 2013 (Pine Valley) --- Planners and residents provided a frosty reception to representatives from ecoplexus tonight. Planners voted unanimously, 11-0, to find the company’s proposed solar project inconsistent with the Central Mountain Regional Plan and the County’s General Plan.
By energy industry standards, this is a small “green” project—three megawatts on two 12-acre parcels at Buckman Springs Road and Old Highway 80. But to residents in this rural area, the project seems substantial intrusion along scenic highways without tangible benefits to Pine Valley residents.
To say it was a tough crowd would be an understatement.
By Paul Kruze
October 3, 2013 (San Diego)--In an attempt to make heads or tails out of the fallout from the resignation of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, the Green Experts Academy held a forum entitled “San Diego Civic Crisis: Where Does The Green Sector Go From Here?” at the Cricket Communications headquarters in Kearney Mesa on September 26th.
By Jim Wiegand, wildlife biologist
September 27, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- While Altamont Pass operators have been hiding most of their wind turbine mortality with search intervals of 30-90 days, the rest of North American wind farms hide mortality by using search areas that are far too small. By using only 50 meter search areas for their huge new turbines, the wind facility operators can easily hide over 90% of fatalities caused from turbine blade strikes.
“We supported the renewable energy plan but we wanted it done in the right. The stakeholders advisory group is biased and stacked. It’s all industry…” – Donna Tisdale, Chair, Boulevard Planning Group
By Alex Riggins
September 26, 2013 (San Diego) – The County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Wednesday to approve a work plan for a comprehensive renewable energy plan. The plan includes options for creating an alternative to SDG&E such as a publicly owned utility district, as well as plans for the type, scale and location of energy development. A cost analysis and comparison of various energy options was removed, however.
The work plan will analyze ways in which the county can move forward with renewable energy options. It was approved unanimously after the Board heard public comments and deliberated for nearly two hours on Wednesday morning. The plan drew support from the energy industry and concerns from rural residents.
WINE TASTING SEPT. 29 TO HELP RE-OPEN SIERRA CLUB'S FOSTER LODGE, REBUILD CABIN LOST IN CHARIOT FIRE
September 22, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The Sierra Club invites the public to a benefit to raise funds for rebuilding a cabin lost in the Chariot Fire on July , and to celebrate the fact that the historic Foster Lodge survived the wildfire on Mount Laguna. While there was insurance coverage, the Chapter needs to raise funds to offset a $10,000 deductible and other costs not covered to get the lodge reopened for business.
ENVRIONMENTALISTS WEIGH CHALLENGE AFTER SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL APROVES CASTLEROCK PROJECT AND TRANSFER OF LAND TO SANTEE
By Nadin Abbott
September 17, 2013 (San Diego)—The San Diego City Council voted 7-0 to approve the controversial Castlerock housing project on the border of Santee and San Diego. The resolution proposed by Council Member Scott Sherman (District 7) and Council Member David Alvarez (District 8) reads in part, “approve the Staff’s recommendation (Annexation being the preferred scenario).”
It is clear that San Diego would prefer the project to go to Santee. One key reason is fire response, which San Diego Fire Department cannot do in a timely manner, due to the location of the nearest fire stations and how busy Santee roads can be at rush hour. With annexation, Santee will have jurisdiction to dispatch fire engines and other emergency services.
By Miriam Raftery
September 20, 2013 (San Diego) -- Over 100 San Diegans will gather outside the Federal Building downtown on Saturday to call on President Obama to reject a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada to Texas for refining and export. San Diego’s event is one of roughly two hundred “Draw the Line” events planned around the country, part of a nationwide day of action sponsored by 350.org and other climate action groups.
President Obama has said he would approve completion of the 1,700-mile pipeline from Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries only if it would not “significantly exacerbate” carbon pollution, adding that the pipeline’s net effects on the climate would be “absolutely critical” to his decision.
350.org contends that the pipeline would increase pollution by the equivalent of adding 9 million cars to the highways, also creating water pollution and other problems.
September 18, 2013 (San Diego ) – On September 26, the Green Experts Academy presents a panel focused on green jobs, the clean tech sector development, renewable energy, climate mitigation, solar and the vision for America’s Finest Green City. Participants include mayoral candidates David Alvarez, Nicole Capretz, Office of Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, Deanna Sphen, Office of Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, and other green experts.
Environmental concerns, conflict of interests by Lightner raised
By Miriam Raftery
September 16, 2013 (San Diego) – San Diego’s City Council will hold a hearing today at 2 p.m. on the controversial Castlerock housing project. The project is proposed by Pardee Homes near the boundary between Santee and San Diego. The Planning Commission previously recommended annexing land for the project to Santee. Council has the option to approve, modify or disapprove the project and if approved, to determine whether or not it should be transferred to Santee’s jurisdiction.
Campaign contribution forms reveal that Council President Sherri Lightner accepted $4300 in donations from 12 Pardee Homes employees during her primary challenge. “If Pardee reimbursed its employees, the contributions would be illegal. Regardless of the contributions legality, we believe Pardree’s contributions are an inappropriate attempt to purchase your vote for a quadruple up-zone on Castlerock,” wrote Van Collingsworth, executive director of Preserve Wild Santee, in a letter to Lightner.
Comments submitted jointly by the Chaparral Institute and Preserve Wild Santee raised serious concerns over water supplies, traffic, environmental and public health impacts if the project is built near Mission Trails Regional Park.
September 15, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--The non-profit San Diego Renewable Energy Society’s 13th San Diego Sustainability Tour features free, open house tours of 10 energy-smart homes showcasing the gamut of energy efficiency and solar solutions San Diegans are employing to slash utility bills, power their electric vehicles (EVs), improve property values and reap rich tax credits and cash rebates as they hedge against September’s rising energy costs.
Residential: Homeowners and qualified contractors will be on-hand at 10 winning residential sites across the county. In a unique twist, join the East County Solar Guy for a boots-on-the-roof solar installation in progress in La Mesa on September 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., plus you can see two other solar homes in East County.
September 14, 2013 (San Diego) – Activist San Diego is holding a general meeting on September 16, beginning at 7 p.m., at Joyce Beers Center, 3900 Vermont St., San Diego. The meeting will address climate change and the XL Keystone Pipeline.
September 14, 2013 (Lakeside/Dehesa) – San Diego River Park Foundation is striving to secure $850,000 in grant funds to save the 152-acre Chocolate Summit/Peutz Creek Conservation area between Dehesa and Lakeside. They needed to raise $37,500 by September 19, of which just $4,171 remains to be raised. Every dollar given will result in $22 in grant funds.
This undeveloped land is the last remaining key piece of this wildlife corridor within our conservation area, according to the Foundation’s Facebook Page. For details and donations visit: http://www.sandiegoriver.org/peutz_creek.php
A biology report identified this property as part of a "large regional linkage for wildlife between Dehesa and Lakeside that has been identified as important to maintain the diversity of wildlife in the region." Hundreds of plant and animal species have been identified or are expected to be located on this important property, including:
Local legislators divided on measure
Photo: Bobcat family in Lakeside, photo by Billy Ortiz
September 13, 2013 (Sacramento) – A bill to prohibit trapping of bobcats around public parks and wildlife refuges in California is now on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature. The bill, AB 1213, would also prohibit trapping bobcats on private property without the landowner’s permission.
An estimated 1,813 bobcats were killed in the 2011-2012 license season, up 51% over the prior year. The vast majority of those (1,499) were taken by trappers, the rest by hunters. Bobcat pelt prices have soared from $78 in 2009 to over $700 today, the Los Angeles Times reported.
September 12, 2013 (San Diego) – Jim Bell, a San Diego expert on developing cost-effective and life-support-system-effective (low and carbon free) economies, will present his findings on creating a sustainable future at the Low Carbon Earth Summit in Xi’an, China, held September 26-28. Founder of the Ecological Life Systems Institute, a division of the Heartland Coalition, Bell will instruct conference attendees how efficient energy use and renewable energy development are foundational to the long term success of regional and national economies worldwide. He will also show how renewably produced, carbon free electricity can be used to make regions and countries renewable energy, water and food self-sufficient, in life-support sustaining ways. Additionally, he will show how true-cost and cradle to cradle pricing can be used to create real, mutually beneficial, free-market economies.
September 11, 2013 (La Mesa) – Sullivan Solar Power invites the public to two free events on solar energy in La Mesa:
- La Mesa Solar Luncheon on Saturday, September 21st at 11:00 a.m.at the La Mesa Community Center (4975 Memorial Dr.). will provide opportunities to, learn about solar technology, how to determine if solar is right for your home, rebates and incentives, and local case studies. The presentation will last one hour; lunch will be provided. RSVP: 1.800.SULLIVAN.
- Solar Open House on Saturday, September 28th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in La Mesa at 7430 Orien Avenue. Utility rates went up as much as 39% recently. Learn about solar technology, rebates and incentives, and the SDG&E rate hike from solar industry experts while talking to property owners that went solar. Call 1.800.SULLIVAN for more information.
Update September 11, 2013: This agenda item has been postponed until September 25th due to the absence of Supervisor Greg Cox.
Hear ECM’s radio interview with Supervisor Dianne Jacob on this issue: http://k002.kiwi6.com/hotlink/uuv0z6n9db/diannejacob-energyplanhearing.mp3
By Miriam Raftery
September 7, 2013 (San Diego) Updated September 8, 2013 –On Wednesday morning, Supervisors will consider approval of the first phase of a “Renewable Energy Work Plan” to support renewable energy development – and determine just what types of renewable energy the County should pursue. This includes an overview of energy resources available in the unincorporated areas including East County, a cost analysis of renewable energy options, and consideration of consumer choice alternatives for purchasing power from a source other than SDG&E, such as through community choice aggregation.
By Miriam Raftery
September 8, 2013 (Ocotillo) – A new dust storm, flooding and more white foam flowed through Ocotillo today, heightening residents’ concerns about impacts of Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Facility on this desert community.
At 4:40 p.m. a storm hit, sending massive amounts of dust into the air, this time coming directly from project access dirt roads created by Pattern Energy, according to Jim Pelley, who shot this video. Soon after, a storm brought flash flooding, which residents claim is worsened by drainage changes made by the wind developer. The flood brought a repeat of an unknown white sludgy substance washing across the desert floor and into the town.
“The white foam is back moving across the project. It was a bit eerie,” said Pelly, who took video of today’s white foam flood as well.
September 7, 2013 (San Diego) - The non-profit San Diego Renewable Energy Society (SDRES) invites property owners, building and corporate sustainability managers county-wide to join San Diego’s leading solar and energy efficiency innovators and contractors for an interactive, behind-the-scenes tour of seven cost-cutting commercial energy solutions during the Commercial Leg of the San Diego Renewable Energy Society's 13th San Diego Sustainability Tour, September 20, from 10 am to 4:30 pm.
By Paul Kruze
September 5, 2013 (San Diego)-- A small but passionate group of local environmentalists and workers for Sullivan Solar Power, a local solar panel installation company, gathered in front of Sempra Energy’s downtown corporate offices on August 28 to protest the energy conglomerate’s backing of California Assembly Bill 327. Opponents here and at protests elsewhere in California said the bill would irreparably gut incentives for energy conservation and rooftop solar development.
Introduced by Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno), the proposed bill was approved by the California Senate Energy Committee late last week, with major amendments. If passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, it would replace what utilities and other supporters say are outdated restrictions on how electrical rates are decided and approved.
By Miriam Raftery
September 5, 2013 (La Mesa) – Four years ago, Helix Water District took back management of Lake Jennings from the County. But now the board is weighing options to reduce its operating costs or raise revenues generated by the 9,700 acre reservoir in Lakeside. Those options include closing the lake, offering a long-term lease to a neighboring district, or privatizing the lake’s facilities by turning over management to a company such as KOA, which operates campgrounds nationwide.
On September 13 at 10 a.m., the District will hold a public workshop at its administration building, 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa. You can also send comments to the board at email@example.com
September 6, 2013 (La Mesa) – The City of La Mesa is holding its sixth annual “Sustain La Mesa” Environmental Festival September 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Harry Griffen Park, 9550 Milden Street, La Mesa. The free event is presented by the La Mesa Environmental Sustainability Commission and will feature hydroponics, solar cooking, composting, electric vehicles, kid’s crafts and more.
By Miriam Raftery
August 30, 2013 (Ocotillo) -- Thursday’s storm brought an unwanted surprise to residents of Ocotillo, where floodwaters swept through the desert town carrying a white, foamy sludge. You can see a video of the sludge flood on our website at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqtr8mKDbEo&feature=youtu.be
East County Magazine photographer Jim Pelley lives in Ocotillo. He and other residents say that they have never seen the white foamy sludge before the Ocotillo Wind Energy facility was built.
“What is it?” he asked. “What effect will it have on our sole source aquifer?” The underground aquifer provides the town’s only source of drinking water. Pelley also wants to know if the contaminated water will be harmful to animals. “It has been so dry out here, I’m sure all of the wildlife is very thirsty and will be drinking this water.”
SDG&E offers programs to assist low-income ratepayers, those with medical needs, and FLEX alerts for energy savings
By Walt Meyer
August 31, 2013 (San Diego)--Although temperatures have finally climbed to the normal range for the end of August, so far it’s been a mild summer, with temperatures below average, and for much of San Diego County, having things a few degrees cooler means not having to turn on the air conditioning. Hot summer days pose the biggest challenge to keeping the juice flowing without brownouts.
While renewable promise a long-term solution, in the short term, with San Onofre offline, likely permanently, the generating power of Southern California will be severely tested in a heat wave. As the region moves deeper into what is likely to a bad fire season, blazes near power lines also pose another imminent threats to the fragile power grid.
There is another good reason to try to keep the A/C off and switch to renewable: starting September 1, SDG&E is imposing a major rate increase. The rate hike will affect Tiers 3 and 4, but not Tiers 1 and 2 at all, which means many ratepayers in more temperate areas may not see any increase, but those who are usually have rates in the higher tiers will see their rates go up.