OpEd: Moratorium needed on renewable energy utilities until citizens can be protected

Western Antelope Valley Voices
By Julie Schuder, Board member of the Original Antelope Acres Town Council

I am an Antelope Acres resident in the Western Antelope Valley and I serve as a member of the Antelope Acres Town Council. I am writing this on behalf of myself and the town council, my family, my friends and neighbors in Los Angeles County.

Our area of the Antelope Valley has been watching the progress of utility-scale renewable energy projects in our neighborhoods. We read Environmental Impact Reports and Mitigated Negative Declarations that are written and approved by L. A. County employees who do not understand the extreme conditions of the Mojave Desert. We watch as the documented dust mitigation measures fail miserably, as we who live here predicted that they would.

As expected, we are now living with the hazardous conditions resulting from the lack of adequate planning and the premature, irresponsible construction of such facilities as Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One and the Alpine Solar NRG plant, plus others which are getting green lights from the county to begin building.

With the knowledge that the Los Angeles County Planning Department has admittedly never overseen projects of this type, size or scope and that codes designed to govern utility-scale projects have not even been written into law in Los Angeles County, it’s no surprise that serious mistakes were made.

To protect the health and safety of Los Angeles County residents, it is crucial moving forward that provisions be put into place to ensure that those mistakes aren’t made in the future. San Bernardino County has ordered a moratorium for this very reason, and Los Angeles County must act responsibly as well.

We need to immediately halt construction of utility-scale renewable energy facilities until the renewable energy ordinance has been written into law. I’m sure you’ll agree that allowing construction of such facilities before applicable laws are in place is not a safe practice. Doing so might create hazardous conditions for residents.

The protection of its residents is the most basic moral duty of any government agency or official.

Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors should take that duty seriously and stand up for the people. Make the difficult decision to do the right thing.

This is adapted from a letter that was sent to Los Angeles County District 5 Supervisor Michael Antonovich on January 6, 2014 calling for an immediate moratorium on solar and wind utility-scale projects in LA County.

This is part of the January 17, 2014 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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