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REGPA revisions up for discussion

May 5, 2014

Many of the residents in attendance at the April 1 Board of Supervisors meeting said they were happy with the new REGPA proposal, and looked forward to working with the county to refine it further. Photo by Mike Gervais

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors will begin its regular open session meeting today at 10 a.m. and then, at 1:30 p.m., will discuss modifications to the Draft Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment.
This meeting is open to the public and time will be set aside for residents to make comments to the board.
This will be a follow-up to April 1, when planning staff presented the supervisors with a new draft alternative for the REGPA that reduces the amount of land available for industrial-scale renewable energy development and uses careful wording to ensure that the county is not soliciting renewable energy projects.
The REGPA originally presented earlier this year included 14 Renewable Energy Development Areas, including Laws, Fish Lake Valley, Deep Springs, the Owens Valley, Owens Lake, Centennial Flats/Darwin, Rose Valley, Pearsonville, Chicago Valley, Charlston View and Sandy Valley, totaling 969 square miles, or 620,120 acres.
Staff had developed two alternatives to that plan, a more intense REGPA, and a less intense REGPA. Residents had favored the less intense alternative, but felt that plan was still too flawed to implement.
On April 1, in response to comments the Planning Department received from residents, staff presented a fourth alternative called the Less-Less Intensive. This plan reduced the size of some REDAs and eliminated others, including the Death Valley Junction and Chicago Valley REDAs. The Owens Valley REDAs, the location of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s controversial, proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch, was removed for further study.
The Less-Less Intense proposal includes a total of 138 square miles of REDAs (down from 328 square miles, proposed in the original less intense alternative).
While many concerns were addressed in the new draft plan, the Board of Supervisors, Planning staff and residents at the April 1 meeting unanimously recognized that there was still room for improvement, and plenty of time to make those improvements.
Staff is now presenting recommended modifications to the draft REGPA for board approval.
Once the board signs off on the revised draft REGPA, the Planning Department will release a Notice of Preparation on the project, which includes three more public hearings.
From there, staff will develop a draft Environmental Impact Statement this summer. That process also includes time for public input before a final EIR is developed this fall.
Following the final EIR, staff will make an update to the REGPA before it returns to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

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