March 10, 2010
LADWP Officially Cancels Green Path North
At a press conference in Yucca Valley today, Mark Sedlacek announced that LADWP is ending its drive to build the Green Path North power lines from Desert Hot Springs through the high desert.
Listen to his remarks here. I've edited out three ovations to keep it down to only 44 seconds.
Thank you, my name is Mark Sedlacek from L.A. Light and Power. David Freeman was planning to be here today but other commitments came up at the last minute that kept him in the L.A. area. So, on behalf of David Freeman I want to let everyone know how much we appreciate your input and your patience over the last three years. As of today, we have submitted two letters to the Bureau of Land Management and one to the U.S. Forest Service to withdraw the right of way grant application.
Just in closing, we do remain committed to renewable energy elements. We'd also like to mention that at this point LADWP is recommending that the mayor and city council [of Los Angeles, one presumes] support Senator Feinstein's Desert Protection Act.
I have copies of the letters for you.
March 9, 2010
Green Path North Message?
From the California Desert Coalition:
We have learned that a representative from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power will deliver a message to our communities this Wednesday, March 10, at 12:30 p.m. at the Yucca Valley Community Center. If LADWP issues a press release that gives more clarity to what is on the agenda, we will forward it to you.
Those of you that can clear your calendars, please attend and learn the latest directly from the source.
April Sall, Chair
Ruth Rieman, Vice Chair
California Desert Coalition
October 23, 2009
Straightening Out A Few More Facts
Right next to the photos of Rick Daniels in the Russell Betts campaign brochure is a box entitled "A note on Green Path North" where it says "In July 2008, when word came out that high voltage power lines proposed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power were going to run behind our homes and through sensitive environmental lands, Russ recognized it was serious."
Actually, word had been out about Green Path North long before July 2008. Here's my first posting on it in April 2007, linking to the first L.A. Times story about it. The first big public meeting against Green Path North came in October 2007. Here's my write up on that meeting. Russell Betts wasn't there.
But he did show up at the July 19, 2008, meeting where he was one of the public commenters. This meeting was larger than the October meeting, and it included TV cameras.
After that Mr. Betts organized the Coachella Valley Coalition which was instrumental in getting every resolution-passing body in the valley to issue resolutions in opposition to Green Path North. And those resolutions have been very important to get LADWP to halt or re-think (or whatever they're doing now) their plans.
October 3, 2009
H. David Nahai has resigned as CEO and General Manager of LADWP, the agency behind the Green Path North proposal to build powerlines through Desert Hot Springs and the high desert. He will "take a position as an advisor to former President Clinton's climate initiative to battle global warming," so, no, he won't be applying for a position at MSWD.
September 25, 2009
LADWP Backing Down On Green Path North?
CDC is encouraged to learn from several news sources that Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa's administration has heard the concerns of desert communities regarding the Green Path North (GPN) Project and that the City of Los Angeles plans on putting more emphasis on utilizing existing transmission lines to transmit renewable energy to the city.
Most encouraging is the Press Enterprise’s report that the mayor’s press secretary, Sarah Hamilton, indicated the city is "seriously contemplating" removing the GPN preferred alignment (from Desert Hot Springs and up through the high desert to Hesperia) from the list of proposed routes for the project.
And, as reported by Reuters, Deputy Mayor David Freeman, who is in charge of the mayor's environmental agenda, has said "We are taking a fresh look at the whole ball game, including the Green Path North transmission line."
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Villaraigosa administration appears to have shifted to a policy focused more on developing renewable energy sources closer to LADWP’s existing power transmission lines, primarily those that stretch to Owens Valley and east toward Utah.
The article also reports that LADWP General Manager David Nahai, who has often claimed that the utility must own GPN transmission lines, says that LADWP "hopes to" share the I-10 corridor with Southern California Edison. CDC also "hopes" LADWP has had a change in its thinking, but until Mayor Villaraigosa has the city-owned utility remove its preferred alignment route from the formal Bureau of Land Management process, we cannot rest in our efforts to stop LADWP from pursuing this route. With the GPN public scoping process coming up the first of next year, we will need everyone’s continuing support to participate in that process and ensure LADWP’s preferred alignment gets removed from further consideration.
We cautiously compliment Mayor Villaraigosa on his reconsideration of the city’s renewable energy planning. The shift to use of existing transmission corridors, when Los Angeles reaches outside of its boundaries for renewable energy, is certainly a move in the right direction that will help preserve pristine desert areas. We will be encouraging the mayor, in his quest to make his city the greenest big city in America, to also shift his administration’s policy away from primary reliance on utility-scale projects to meet his ambitious renewable energy goals. Destroying pristine lands, either with transmission lines or with large-scale solar and wind generation, is not necessary nor appropriate as a way to reach "green" goals. The mayor must allow the citizen’s of Los Angeles to do their part; he must adopt policies that make possible widespread use of solar photovoltaic (PV) on the rooftops of Los Angeles residences, as well as on commercial buildings.
April Sall, Chair
Ruth Rieman, Vice Chair
California Desert Coalition
May 5, 2009
Stop The Towers
The California Desert Coalition
will be holding its 2nd annual benefit dinner and silent auction at historic
and partially supported by...
Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace
Sat., June 13, 2009, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Don't miss this hootin' hollerin' evening of fun, all to benefit a great cause.
For more information - MJ at  217-2130
$50.00 per person
NO Tickets will be available at the door
Purchase Tickets Online at
send a check [payable to California Desert Coalition, I'm sure] to
P.O. Box 1508
Yucca Valley, CA 92286
Ticket manager - MJ at  217-2130
Final Date to buy Tickets
Friday, June 5
Valuable items from local businesses, artists and individuals have been pledged. Any items big or small are welcome and are tax-deductible.
For auction donations call Carol (760-228-2811)
This is a fundraiser to fight Green Path North.
The Stop the Towers Hootenanny will feature a buffet dinner, great music, no host bar and the opportunity to bid on silent auction items. This festive evening of fun and camaraderie promises to be a real "hoot" and will offer us all the opportunity to hear about the latest progress being made to stop the proposed 500kV power corridor through the Morongo Basin and surrounding communities.
March 10, 2009
The anti-Green Path North billboard along I-10 has finally gotten some notice from Los Angelenos, as it is mentioned here on the LAObserved blog. Their concern, though, is that it will affect Villaraigosa's ambition to become Governor.
February 27, 2009
LADWP Discusses New Route For Green Path
A Press-Enterprise article with two big stories about Green Path North. First, the obvious one that they are considering another route (called "A3") that would run from Devers II (near Desert Hot Springs) to I-10, along I-10 to San Timoteo Canyon, and then to Loma Linda, Colton, Rialto and San Bernardino to Lytle Creek north of Fontana. [I wonder if anyone at the Press-Enterprise ever looks at their web articles to see how horrid their graphics turn out.] The route crosses a lot fewer private properties than the other I-10 route that would run lines all the way along the Ten to I-15. LADWP contacted Southern California Edison two weeks ago to re-open discussions for the I-10 route. They have not, however, contacted Union Pacific, whose right of way would be used as well. The Redlands Conservancy is concerned about environmental damage to San Timoteo Canyon.
The second big story is that we are finding out about this proposal now, even though it has not been publicly announced, and there is no detailed information or official maps yet, because the LADWP asked "desert stakeholders" to a private meeting on the subject in Los Angeles last week.
Yes, instead of trespassing and secretly planting survey markers, they are now asking for up-front input from April Sall, Joan Taylor, and (we assume) others unnamed. This is a great improvement from David Nahai's snotty remark last summer, "I didn't have to come out here, you know."
February 5, 2009
DHS Historical Society Expresses Opposition to Green Path North
At its monthly meeting this morning, the Desert Hot Springs Historical Society approved a resolution expressing its opposition to LADWP's Green Path North project that would construct powerlines on the western side of the city, across Big Morongo Canyon, along the San Bernardinos and into the high desert. The resolution cites the loss of our historic viewshed if the powerlines are built on that route.
Here is an especially relevant passage from The Waters Of Comfort by John J. Hunt (that I've quoted before) describing city founder L.W. Coffee's first night in the desert (it's 1932) that would become Desert Hot Springs:
Coffee's eyes scanned the valley below them in the rich, fading twilight. Ten miles away the splendid spike of granite called Mount San Jacinto stood majestic and proud. From her peak and descending gently over her escarpments was a skimpy mantilla of snow, now glowing in the orangey light. Below this the slopes were delicate shades of lilac and purple and black. The air was keen on the back of the throat and there was a great silence flung over this magnificent desertscape. In his mind, Coffee's dream was already materializing.
Following dinner that evening, Anderson related to his guests how difficult it had been to improve his quarter section and that there were no tangible returns of any kind from the homestead.
"Then how do you make ends meet, Bill?" Coffee asked him.
"Well, times I get over to Indio and do buildin', paintin', you know, odd jobs. Then I'll stock up on basics and head back over here, to the old place."
He drifted to a stop, as the trio became aware of the fading light shooting up behind San Jacinto projecting high over the mountains and the pass into a pale golden, red and purple fan of magnificent beauty.
It was Anderson who broke their reverie. "Like this every night, just about."
Up behind them in a canyon came the short sharp calls of a lone coyote, signaling the beginning of night on the desert.
They kept listening, but there was only the slight rustling of the creosote bushes. "Times it's lonely out here, but it's sure beautiful. I always thought this area would naturally attract more homesteaders like myself. Why, look at this view, and it's far better than you get over there at Palm Springs."
December 31, 2008
Green Path North Category
I've added a new Green Path North category for Ron's Log postings, since I expect this subject will be continuing for a long time.
December 20, 2008
LADWP Rejects SCE Offer - Wants High Desert Power Lines
[Southern California] Edison could add enough capacity on its power lines along Interstate 10 to carry electricity to Los Angeles from geothermal, wind and solar power projects planned in the desert, said Sandi Blain, manager of the transmission project licenses for Edison, an investor-owned utility.
Nonetheless, LADWP has said they are not interested in the deal. LADWP General Manager David Nahai said "We have to have permanent and absolute transmission rights. ... Renting is not the option one prefers to have." LADWP spokesman Joseph Ramallo made it clear the issue is money:
Ramallo said Los Angeles prefers to own its transmission lines and power-generation sources as much as possible.
That allows the utility to offer lower rates than those offered by investor-owned, for-profit utilities, such as Edison.
Those who attended the Thursday night Green Path North meeting in Desert Hot Springs will recall that Jim Caldwell, the LADWP representative at the meeting, said that the LADWP was considering "all options," that they hadn't selected a preferred route. Then he went on to describe the utter impossibility of bringing that green power to L.A. along I-10. And he never even mentioned the third suggested route, the one we all know is just some ridiculous BS that would have the powerlines go from Devers east to Desert Center and around the eastern end of Joshua Tree National Park, ultimately to parallel I-40.
Now the LADWP has made it crystal clear that they are considering no other route for Green Path North than through the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, across the Morongo Basin, Pioneertown and Johnson Valley.
December 18, 2008
Green Path North Meeting
I was at the first public meeting of the Coachella Valley Coaliton at the Carl May Center tonight in Desert Hot Springs. The meeting was run by Russ Betts, DHS city counil member, and most of the movers and shakers were there, including four members of the city council (Karl Baker was at home packing his bags) and Joan Taylor of the Sierra Club. Jim Caldwell from the LADWP showed up as their representative. He was a bit late due to a traffic accident at the 10 and 605. Here's a site that says Jim Caldwell is an assistant general manager at LADWP. On this Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce page he's described as "Environmental Affairs, LADWP." So, maybe he's the assistant general manager of environmental affairs, but a Google search of the LADWP website turns up no Caldwells.
After a short video, most of the meeting was questions and answers. Judy Shea had an interesting suggestion that Mr. Caldwell did not answer: has LADWP considered running a new powerline in the air space above the Southern Pacific lines that parallel I-10? Does anyone know if something like that's been done before?
A speaker from the high desert announced the idea of including Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in Joshua Tree National Park. This idea has the support of the people at Big Morongo, and would make sense in terms of the migratory nature of the animals that move from Joshua Tree into Big Morongo for water and to get to the San Bernardino National Forest. For our environmental purposes, extending the national park like that would block Green Path North as well as any future proposals to run something up those hills.
The speaker said the process of including new land in a national park can take something like five years. If you support the idea, the thing you can do now is to contact Congressman Jerry Lewis who has already expressed his opposition to Green Path North and let him know you support the expansion of Joshua Tree National Park to include Big Morongo Preserve.
One member of the audience asked if this was the same proposal she thought she had heard about in October to include BLM land in Joshua Tree National Park. It is not. I believe she was referring to an announcement by DHS City Manager Rick Daniels in August that Senator Feinstein's Wilderness Bill would take BLM land that lies between the city and the boundary of the national park and add it into the park, guaranteeing that nothing but wilderness would abutt the city.
Mr. Caldwell said that the NOI/NOP, indicating the official beginning of the environmental assessment phase, would be in the spring.
The next meeting of the Coachella Valley Coalition will be on January 22, at the Carl May Center again.
Here's a nice postcard that was being given away. On the back is pre-printed text that you can sign and send away to Mayor Villaraigosa. Click the photo if you want to read the text.
December 16, 2008
Green Path North Meeting Thursday
Councilmember Betts reminds us that Thursday, December 18, there will be an informational meeting on the propsoed Green Path North power line project. The meeting will commence at 6 PM in the Carl May Center on West Drive in Desert Hot Springs. He says a representative of our darling LADWP has asked to be present. The website of the Coachella Valley Coalition. The website of the California Desert Coalition with more information.
December 8, 2008
Green Path North Info Meeting in DHS
Yesterday, Russell Betts told me the Green Path North informational meeting in Desert Hot Springs that he has mentioned at a couple of city meetings will be held at the Carl May Center on Thursday, December 18 at 6 PM. More info on Green Path North can be found here. The route for new power lines to deliver green power to Los Angeles MUST come through Devers which is in Desert Hot Springs (or its sphere of influence). The question is whether we accept LADWP's plan to run the new power lines across our nearly virgin Little San Bernardinos north of town, and then through the wilderness of the high desert to Hesperia, or do we get them to run the power lines along the already highly-urbanized I-10 corridor.
October 31, 2008
Green Path North Meeting, November 6
After the election it will be time to turn our attention back to all those political issues that fill our time between elections. The California Desert Coalition will have an update meeting on Thursday evening, November 6, at 7 PM in the fabulous Yucca Room in the Yucca Valley Community Center, 57090 Highway 62 in Yucca Valley.
August 8, 2008
Nahai Backs Down
That is David Nahai of the LADWP, but he didn't back down from Green Path North, rather from a more mundane issue: a previously secret pension boost for Raman Raj, the LADWP's chief operating officer. It seems that when Nahai brought Raj back on board last December he promised "a $152,000 pension boost." I haven't lived in California long enough to know exactly what "a $152,000 pension boost" means. Does it mean that when he leaves his annual pension will be $152,000 higher per year? Or will $152,000 be amortized over his expected life? Or does it mean the LADWP just promised to throw $152,000 more into CALPERS and Raj will get the benefit of that, however it gets calculated out?
In any case, Nahai promised it, didn't take it to the board, and the shit hit the fan when City Controller Laura Chick (the heroine of this story) got a bill for $76,000 for 3 years of pension payments. "Chick declined to pay the bill, saying she did not understand the rationale." Her office demanded a full vote by the LADWP Board. The Board voted on Tuesday (the L.A. Times does not report the results of that vote, apparently adopting the style of The Desert Sun) but in response Nahai withdrew the pension deal saying "Questions have arisen regarding the advisability of this matter and how it may be perceived. We wish to be sensitive to these concerns and responsive to them and have therefore decided to withdraw this request for retirement benefits altogether."
There ya go. Nahai seems to be a fine and fair administrator so long as he works in the bright light of day.
August 6, 2008
Unanimous Opposition to Green Path North at DHS City Council, August 5
The agenda for the closed meeting preceding the regular city council meeting had only two items on it: (1) existing litigation with Kathy Ward et al. and (2) "potential litigation, pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(C)." Attorney Duran told us that there was nothing to report on the first item, but that on the second item Councilmember Al Schmidt recused himself and the rest of the council voted 4-0 not to proceed with litigation. Decode that however you wish to.
Item 14e was removed from the agenda at the request of City Manager Rick Daniels. That was the item that would have adopted the policy rules and handbook that Al Schmidt and Karl Baker put so much work into. So, if that was the big thing you were excited about tonight, you'll have to check back at a future council meeting.
Plaques of recognition were presented by Mayor Parks and Police Chief Williams to the members of the parolee ad hoc committee: Russell Betts, Donn Sholty, Russ Martin, Scott Matas and Jeff Bowman.
Gabriel King reported on the Planning Commission. Next meeting for them is Tuesday, August 12 at 6 PM.
Camille Linde reported on the Citizen's Street Committee which has now shut up shop. One of the interesting points was that it was the city's policy to re-do 75% of the better streets that needed work, and only 25% of the streets in poor condition. At least that's how she reported it. Those two numbers wouldn't have to add up to 100%, unless she meant that 75% of paving money was spent on better streets while the remainder was spent on the worse streets.
In either case, it doesn't take a genius to realize that over time the poor streets would simply get worse and worse and eventually disappear into the desert. Looking around DHS you can see the effect. The committee inverted the policy, so now it's 75% for the poor streets and 25% for the better streets.
City Manager Rick Daniels said that staff would come up with the detailed schedule of street work so that every resident would know just when his street would be a mess. Actual work will begin in October and go on for about a year.
Dot Reed got up during public comments and shared an interesting story (that we could have anticipated). She took a couple of her grandkids (I think she said grandkids) down to the "Greyhound station" in Palm Springs, which is, of course, just the Amtrak station at Garnet. The first bus to come through had NO destination sign and the driver spoke NO English. Really. Even if that's legal, you've got to wonder about Greyhound's concern for customer service and passenger safety. So they waited for the next bus, which was, indeed, going their way. A couple of visitors debarked the bus, glanced around and asked if this was actually Palm Springs. Ms. Reed assured them that this desolate spot was the very place they had read so much about in their tourist brochures. Given the choice of a three mile walk across open desert or a ride in Ms. Reed's car, they chose the ride.
That was the quandary of a couple of healthy tourists with money in their pockets. How will it be when they've got that homeless facility going full blast just on the other side of I-10? I don't think we can conjure up enough Dot Reeds to ferry them all back and forth to town.
Jeff Bowman got up to spread the word that now was the time to snap up some great real estate bargains. He specifically recommended Redfin.com as a way to locate properties.
Father Pantels got up once again to encourage the council to move ahead on an urgent care clinic, specifically the one being proposed by Horizon Medical Group. He also made the point that this article in the Desert Valley Star contained some factual errors, but he was not specific.
Ken Colgrove got up to speak on three complaints:
1) a vehicle he owned was stolen and it turned up in Henderson, Nevada. The Henderson, Nevada, police said they had been unable to make contact with the DHS Police, and the vehicle then somehow passed into the custody of the Las Vegas police where it sat even longer. Mr. Colgrove said it had taken him 12 days to get through the the DHS Police.
2) he complained about a botched street "repair" in front of his house two years ago.
3) when the Tuscan Hills development went bankrupt, the rented fence disappeared, leaving the lake in the development exposed, an "attractive nuisance" I think they might call it. It took more than a week for the city to get a fence restored.
Mayor Parks and Councilmember Al Schmidt reported on a tour they took of successful small cities in Arizona to get an idea of which direction to take DHS in. The cities included Scottsdale, Happy Valley, Jerome, Sedona, Flagstaff and Taliesin West. They both made it clear that neither of them care for the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. Heathens.
City Manager Rick Daniels reported a meeting with Senator Feinstein's staff to discuss her Wilderness Bill which would expand Joshua Tree National Park a little, bringing it up to (or closer to) the city limits of DHS by incorporating the BLM land that currently sits as a buffer between the park and the city. This would provide much greater protection of our view of the pristine Little San Bernardinos and make it that much easier to turn Desert Hot Springs into the gateway for Joshua Tree N.P.
Mr. Daniels went on to say that architectural firms are being retained for four projects, all of which are under $25,000 except one (he didn't say which one): the police station remodeling, designing the police substation in Tedesco Park, Cabot's master plan, and the remodeling of the Senior Center.
He also introduced two new staff people: Amir Modaressi [thank you, Dan Patneaude]
Emir Something-or-other. Mr. Daniels couldn't get his name right and I couldn't hear it when the man said it once. Nonetheless, Amir will be in charge of the $10 million street paving project, so I expect we'll hear his name again. The other new staff person was Hal who will be in charge of park projects and all the other projects.
Finally, we got to the Green Path North resolution. Joan Taylor of the Sierra Club got up to say that she and the Sierra Club were mighty pleased that the city council was considering this resolution. The resolution itself contained some small errors, due to recent changes by the LADWP, but in essence it was dead on. It was quickly approved 5-0.
The question of awarding the visitor center contract to Cabot's came up. The Chamber of Commerce has always had the contract, but the contract has never been put out for bid, and the Chamber has recently made a poor showing for itself. Russ Martin got up to say that he was opposed to giving the contract to Cabot's only because of its out of the way location, that visitors to the city should be able to easily find a visitors center at a gateway into the city. Good point, Mr. Martin, but irrelevant to the choice, since the current Chamber of Commerce location is just as far off the beaten track as Cabot's is. Good signage (and a repaved Desert View) will get visitors to Cabot's. Future city plans should certainly include a prominent visitor center building on Palm Drive somewhere south of the city.
Cabot's got the contract by a 5-0 vote, although the City Mananger must still negotiate details and work out the exact price. The city wants to pay $50,000 and Cabot's is asking for a tad less than $59,000.
A contract was approved to extend pavement on Cholla Drive to Pierson Boulevard. That's $188,069 with Tri-Star Contracting.
The evening's entertainment was the conditional use permit for the construction of the Terrazas Residence at 12466 Skyline Drive. No snags. It was just nice to see architectural drawings for a 4,384 square foot custom residence on the hillside. The fact that the slope there is 20% or steeper is why a conditional use permit is required.
In the second segment of public comments at the end of the council meeting Reverend Paul Miller got up to announce that he would be filing as a candidate for the College Of The Desert Board Of Trustees. It wasn't long before Attorney Duran interrupted him to point out that announcing one's candidacy for office was not permitted in public comments. The Reverend immediately agreed, and said he should have known better than to announce his candidacy for the College Of The Desert Board Of Trustees.
The council meeting adjourned and we moved right into the RDA meeting.
On the RDA agenda was an item to amend the purchase agreement for the Jewish Community Center. Executive Director Rick Daniels pulled that from the agenda because he had not received the necessary paperwork. Florence Martin, though, had come to the meeting specifically to comment on that, so she rose to speak. She lives next door to the site. Her main questions were why did we pay so much for the building and what did we intend to do with it. Good questions. She also objected to the proposed amendment which, she said, was to change the seller from the Rabbi himself to the Community Center, thereby avoiding some taxes.
Also on the agenda were authorizations for the Executive Director to execute purchase agreements on properties at 11875 Palm Drive and 66030-66036 Pierson Boulevard. Some discussion ensued on both items in an attempt to clarify just exactly what places we were talking about. What I do when I see an address for some place the city is trying to buy is go to the Downtown DHS Flickr photo site. All the photos there are indexed by address, so in the search field you can enter "11875 Palm Drive" and you'll see what they're talking about:
11875 Palm Drive.
July 28, 2008
Opinion Piece For Green Path North
The Desert Sun is carrying this opinion piece that reads like LADWP-speak. It doesn't say who actually wrote it, but at the bottom it explains who David Nahai (mentioned no where else on the page) is. Oddly, Mr. Nahai can be contacted at Joseph.Ramallo@ladwp.com. Do you suppose that's the name he uses when he goes out socially?
"Oh, excuse me, aren't you David Nahai from the LADWP?!"
"Sorry, I get that all the time. Apparently we look a lot alike. I'm Joseph Ramallo. Here's my email. Would you like to arm wrestle?"
July 19, 2008
Green Path North Meeting With LADWP
The crowd at the community meeting in Yucca Valley High School this morning arranged by the LADWP was about as big as the one that showed up at the meeting last October that was organized by the anti-Green Path North people. The main differences are that the LADWP was at this meeting, most of the crowd was more informed, and some were out for blood.
Front and center at the meeting was David Nahai (photo here), Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He speaks with an accent from somewhere in the British Commonwealth (maybe it's just BBC), that I eventually recognized as a voice I'd heard on KCRW's Which Way L.A. program a couple of times. He appeared on that program in April last year to discuss Green Path North as part of getting geothermal energy to Los Angeles, and again this past May to discuss water conservation.
The LADWP is perceived as behind the curve on renewable energy compared to other state utilities, such as Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric. What's gone wrong in the past that has kept Los Angeles from bringing in more green power?
I think when you say "behind the curve," it depends on whether you're talking about total numbers, total percentage or pace of change. If you're talking about pace of change, we're ahead of everybody. Just in the last two years since the mayor appointed the new commission, we've almost tripled our renewables, from under 3 percent to 8 percent. I don't know that anybody else has accomplished that pace of change.
Uh-huh, it's like Mr. Nahai wants to win the "Most Improved" award. If you start at the bottom, it's easy to have the greatest pace of change when trying to catch up.
Mr. Nahai "is" a weblogger at Huffington Post, if your definition of "is" is such that one weblog post in May 2007 makes you a weblogger — not that I'm trying to set any standards for weblogging.
Mr. Nahai's big, main point at today's meeting in the Yucca Valley High School auditorium is that there have been substantial changes at LADWP and with its plans in the year and a half since the Green Path North project first floated up to public attention. People at LADWP have died, people have retired, he's been appointed. They "took back" the whole Green Path North proposal that we are already familiar with. They re-examined it, and now they're coming forward with their new ideas. Rather than focusing on the route through the high desert, he says they are considering six possible routes, which really boil down to three routes, each of which has a couple of variations.
All routes start at what they call "Devers II," a proposed new substation near the Devers substation, west of Desert Hot Springs. Desert Hot Springs is the only city that's in every version of the Green Path North plan. I expect we'll hear from an LADWP representative some day at a city council meeting, or maybe at a CVAG meeting. Here's a Google satellite view of the Devers substation. That dark line you see running diagonally a little southwest of Devers is a surface feature of the Banning Branch of the San Andreas fault.
The three basic routes are (1) along I-10, (2) the high desert, or (3) an outlandish plan that I think is included just so it can look like they've got a bunch of plans. Number three would run EAST from Devers along I-10 going south of Joshua Tree National Park, and then head northeast along an existing utility corridor to near Parker Dam and then turn to head west, following utility corridors to Hesperia.
Another change from LADWP is that they came out and removed all the survey markers that they surreptitiously put in a couple of years ago and then denied. Mr. Nahai apologized for that and the closed process that had been previously used.
He spent a lot of time talking of the necessity for green renewable power, a point no one could disagree with. The crowd was there only to hear why LADWP wouldn't use the I-10 route and why they think they can get away with using the high desert route. He said the total potential for California solar power was only 81 megawatts. He didn't qualify or explain that at all. He said there is a potential 2000 megawatts of geothermal power available at the Salton Sea. Later Brian Brady, General Manager of the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), said that 500 megawatts are currently being generated by geothermal at the Salton Sea. Mr. Brady also said the Salton Sea area had a potential to generate 30,000 megawatts of solar power, which is considerably greater than what Mr. Nahai had said.
Since the October meeting, LADWP has started to get its shit together on greening up its own act. They are now distributing compact fluorescent lights, something other power suppliers have been doing for a decade. They've started a rebate program to replace old refrigerators with newer, more efficient ones. They have only just now started on a tiered rate scheme! I didn't know there was a power company anywhere that didn't have tiered rates, charging higher rates to bigger users. How wrong I was.
We also heard from Bill Carnahan, Executive Director of Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA), which includes LADWP, IID and the electric utilities of nine other southern California cities including Riverside and Banning. He said that eventually SCPPA may become the lead agency for Green Path North rather than LADWP.
Then we got a slide show (AKA, "Powerpoint") from Chuck Holloway of LADWP's Environmental Affairs Department; bullet lists and maps. And that's where they finally, finally got down to talking about the I-10 route.
Here's what Mr. Holloway and Mr. Nahai said about the I-10 route: they are talking to Southern California Edison (SCE) about the route. They are having monthly meetings with SCE. Mr. Nahai repeated many times that they are having these monthly meetings. "We are having monthly meetings with Edison," he would say. But he would never say the meetings were focusing on getting access to the I-10 route. Nor did he say any progress was being made at the meetings. He did not characterize the meetings in any way except to say they were monthly. For all we know, the LADWP and Edison have been having monthly meetings since Mulholland was running the show.
The I-10 route would NOT cost more than the high desert route, according to Mr. Nahai. This statement brought an astonished gasp from the crowd. Too bad he saved it until near the end of the meeting. No, he says the problem with the I-10 route is that SCE may not be "able" to give them access to the full route. They could get as far as about Redlands, but urban congestion past that point could present insurmountable problems. One variation on the I-10 route is to go that far and then turn north and follow a path where the urban area abutts the San Bernadino National Forest. Besides being unsightly, that route could almost be guaranteed to trigger some big forest fires.
Then we moved into a long comment/question and answer period. Despite his experience in public service, Mr. Nahai expressed some annoyance and frustration and occasionally became defensive at the fact that several people were not there to listen but only to say their piece, a piece which they may have mentally written well before this meeting and did not acknowledge what Mr. Nahai considers his own great openness and sensitivity to environmental issues. Mr. Nahai had better get used to that, or else just send PR flunkies to future meetings.
The comments and questions covered the whole range...well, maybe I should say half the range - from concern through rage to borderline psychosis. No one got up to praise the LADWP position. Someone representing just about every high desert entity got up to say something. The only unrepresented groups were National Park Service Rangers, but we did have a questioner from the National Parks Conservation Association to cover that base. Also, there were no comments from anyone who could claim to represent CVAG. They've certainly got a dog in this fight, since the Devers II substation is close to or in what will be MSHCP lands west of DHS.
The best insane commentary came from a gentleman who started out by reminding us that we all knew the global warming problem encompasses the entire Solar System and we had better be taking a look at what's going on across the galaxy. He went on to say something about the decay rates of protons and electrons, I think, but it was hard to follow him since most of his "sentences" lacked verbs. Nonetheless, I think he got the biggest applause of all commenters.
We heard a prepared written speech delivered by someone representing the Alliance For Responsible Energy Policy. Questioners were limited to 3 minutes, and he acknowledged that his would take 6 minutes, whereupon a couple of other people who had had their hands up agreed to give up their time for him. All nice and fair, but it was a bloviated speech that I could have easily condensed to less than three minutes. It began with all the usual accusations and recommended local solar and wind power. The speaker said the group opposed all transmission lines and power generation facilities. Now, maybe he forgot to insert the word "new" in there, but he was carefully reading the written speech, so I think he meant what he said. Of course, if they really oppose geothermal plants, solar and wind farms as well as transmission lines, that group won't get much of a say in any energy negotiations by anybody.
One questioner asked about local benefits, specifically "What's in it for us?" Mr. Nahai said he didn't know what the local benefits were, but that LADWP would be involved in lengthy public discussions. It sounded like he was about to hint that maybe LADWP would kick in for some local benefits, but he was cut off by the howls of the crowd.
A Desert Hot Springs resident (didn't catch the name) got up to ask about nuclear power. Earlier, Green Path North was to be used primarily to carry nuclear power from Arizona to Los Angeles. Mr. Nahai said that LADWP had completely revised its plans for the source of the power. No nuclear-generated electricity would go via Green Path North. He said 100% of the electricity carried on Green Path North would be green, renewable energy. The great majority of it would be geothermal, but eventually more solar would come on-line. I wondered why Mr. Nahai hadn't made this positive point earlier in the meeting.
A later questioner pointed out that someday the geothermal could run out and the solar might be inadequate, but the powerlines, wherever they ran, would always be there and he didn't believe that the LADWP could guarantee in perpetuity that those lines would carry only green power. I certainly agree with that point. No one made the additional point that there would be no effective way to monitor this process. Maybe new lines from the southern end of the Salton Sea to Devers II would carry 100% green power, but who could know how it was switched around at Devers II?
Dean Gray of the Desert Valley Star got the mic and spoke for only a moment to point out that all the plans depended on Devers II and new power lines that would go across the area where Desert Hot Springs is hoping to put its future commercial growth and that LADWP would be crippling a small city. He then directly handed the mic and the balance of his time to DHS City Councilmember Russell Betts who had been standing at his side. Mr. Betts said that rather than focusing on the process as Mr. Nahai would have us do, we should stay focused on the end result which, he said, should be to assure that these power lines go down I-10 and not across the high desert. He said that the LADWP is asking the people of the desert to subsidize their project by sacrificing land and beauty. Mr. Betts is invited to include his complete comments here, if he likes.
We also had commenters from Wildlands Conservancy, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, San Bernardino County, the Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency and everybody else involved.
One woman got up to ask if a survey had been made to count all the buildings three stories and taller in Los Angeles and couldn't they be used to "store" solar power. She did say "store," but since there is no economical way to store massive quantities of any kind of electric power yet, maybe she meant "generate."
July 15, 2008
Green Path North Community Meeting
The Desert Valley Star has an article summarizing LADWP's proposed Green Path North project that would run 500 Kv transmission lines from Devers substation (just west of DHS) to Hesperia via the high desert. I pointed out last September that the proposed route of the power lines was right through the middle of the proposed Palmwood development.