Another Developer Slow to Take the Hint
Highway 247—up for consideration as a State Scenic Highway—moves northward through Lucerne Valley toward a small gap between the Granite Mountains and Ord Mountains. A precious wildlife corridor, it’s home to bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, and American badger, and at the crux of two BLM-designated Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. Some of this was once farmland, but the acreage is reverting to natural conditions. Dotted across the landscape are people’s homes—this is a living, vibrant rural community.
In the middle of this panoramic scene are about 500 acres under the jurisdiction of the County of San Bernardino, where energy developer Nextera wants to put a 500-acre, 60-megawatt solar PV project called Ord Mountain. But it has no way to get power to the grid, so Nextera has joined forces with Southern California Edison for approval of a new transmission substation called Calcite, placed across Highway 247 from the project.
But no one wants them there. The county board of supervisors passed a unanimous resolution in February 2016 telling the BLM that Lucerne Valley and the other North Slope communities were unsuitable for utility-scale energy development (and directing BLM and the developers to five severely degraded parts of the county that may be more suitable). Click here to see the resolution.
Ord Mountain Solar’s application is at an early stage; the draft environmental impact report (EIR) is not due out until early 2018. However, the EIR scoping meeting held on June 13, 2017, was very well attended. Twenty-one people spoke up, and not one had anything good to say about the project. A4DP, as part of a large coalition of community groups and leaders, has filed a 33-page letter with the county, sharply criticizing the environmental initial study and underlining the serious environmental consequences that the EIR will have to address.
A4DP is closely following this proposed project and will be posting updates here.