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Drought Cancels Solar Farm Project – Asks for New EIR

By   /   February 9, 2014  /   Comments Off

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denied-resized-600Ridgecrest, Ca.,- I have been following the Town of Ridgecrest because of similar demographics to the Town of Yucca Valley.  They also employed the services of the same consultants to assist in their third attempt to pass a 5 year General Fund tax using the same message…streets, safety and 911 services, etc. Their tax passed, Yucca Valley’s Measure U did not.

Ridgecrest news reports a Solar project has been cancelled until a new EIR is produced because of the severe drought and their water usage exceeds the recharge.

“The amount of water being asked to extract far exceeds the aquifer’s recharge. Despite mitigation and monitoring measures to accompany the water project, the water extraction component has raised a haboob of controversy…”

Citing the drought and lack of water from state resources as a reason to revisit the environmental documents, the Kern County Planning Department is recommending the Fremont Valley project be reviewed, again, before approval from county supervisors, according to a letter.

One, or maybe two, new revised environmental impact reports will take four to six months to compile before being released and available for public scrutiny and comment. Meanwhile, all workshops and meetings planned for the project have been cancelled until a new EIR is produced. The letter states that if AquaHelio still wants to move forward with the plan, the project may be portioned into two separate components, and two EIRs. The letter does not go into what two components the project would be separated.

The proposal was outlined in a letter from the department head, Lorelei H. Oviatt, released at 3 p.m. Friday. The letter is addressed to “Interested Party” or anyone who had attended one of the workshops or public forums on the project or lives in close proximity to the proposed project.

The Fremont Valley Preservation Project, proposed by AquaHelio, LLC, has three parts; a 1,000-megawatt photovoltaic solar-farm, a water extraction component, and a water banking or storing component. The proponents want to produce electricity from the sun, and pump water out of, and store water in, the Fremont Valley aquifer. The amount of water being asked to extract far exceeds the aquifer’s recharge. Despite mitigation and monitoring measures to accompany the water project, the water extraction component has raised a haboob of controversy from neighbors of the valley, including residents of Cantil, Randsburg, Inyokern and Ridgecrest.

The call to revisit the environmental impact report will give the public another chance to comment on the project.

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About the author

Margo Sturges

Yucca Valley Editor

Note: Margo Sturges has written many articles for Cactus Thorns and is the founder of Citizens4Change.info. Email contact: MargoSturgesYV(at)aol.com "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."- George Orwell

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