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Inyo County planners to vote on Little Lake


The Inyo County Planning Commission is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to recommend approval of a permit that would allow a geothermal plant to pump water from an aquifer that is the lifeblood of a 50-year-old hunting club, Little Lake Ranch, and its wetlands along U.S. Highway 395.

Coso Operating Co. said it needs an additional 4,800 acre-feet of water each year to continue operating what it calls environmentally friendly steam-driven turbines already providing about 250,000 homes in the region about 200 miles north of Los Angeles with electricity.

Attorneys for the club of mostly Southern California hunters have argued that the pumping would irreversibly damage their scenic lake, local wells and the surrounding environment within a few years. The Inyo County Water Commission agreed and recently recommended that the county reject the proposal.

However, in a letter delivered a week ago to the planning commission, Oxnard attorney Gary Arnold, who is representing the Owens Valley club in the matter, said Coso has warned that it may file for bankruptcy if its permit application is denied -- a move that could have serious consequences for rural Inyo County.

The plant generates about $12 million in annual tax revenues and royalties for the county, which services a population of about 18,000 people scattered across 10,000 square miles with an annual budget of about $80 million.

In the middle is the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, which will take the planning commission's recommendation into consideration and then decide whether to grant Coso's application to build pipelines and pump water across nine miles of arid terrain from the aquifer to its power plant.

-- Louis Sahagun

Photo: Little Lake, in the Owens Valley. Credt: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times

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I agree.We should localize our power produciton to each household.It is much more efficient.There is no power lost transmitting power from your rooftop to your household appliances.Thirty percent of the power transmitted in power lines is lost when it has to travel hundreds of miles through power lines.
Whenever companies want to get their way they threaten chap 11...Let them.They will be doing just that when they pump the aquifer dry in a few short years anyway.
In the long run inyo county can make more off tourism.
Each citizen has to get personally involved and educated about our energy consumption.New homes should be mandated to have solar power.Instead of adding an entertainment theater room,forego it to have a house that is self sufficient.

there is more to "going green" than straight CO2 emissions, and this story is important because there is nothing "renewable" about permanently draining lakes (or other water sources) for power. an "additional" 4800 acre feet is over 1.5 BILLION GALLONS A YEAR, on top of any water they are already using. Every geothermal "resource" runs out of water. It is a question of "when," not "if."

there is a similar "dirty little secret" about concentrating solar thermal - like those being planned in the beautiful, intact Mojave. not only does their output drop precipitously when it gets hot outside (and power is needed the most), but they use a minimum of 30 million and up to billions of gallons a year for rinsing mirrors (minimum) via diesel trucks driving up and down the rows, and/or for water cooling (billions) - for EACH plant. this is absolutely unacceptable in a state that is always going to be in a drought, and especially in our DESERTS!

rooftop solar uses NO water (and kills no ecosystems, animals or plants) and does not require more costly SF6-spewing powerlines (a greenhouse gas 23,900 times as potent as CO2 that is emitted in huge amounts during construction and maintenance of transmission lines). Rather than forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes, rooftop solar improves property values and if good policies like feed in tariffs are in place, it financially rewards people who do the right thing by producing more clean power than they consume. right where power is needed, not hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Big Energy is going to just substitute one big environmental problem for several more, and pocket the profits, while ignorant so-called "environmentalists" do all the greenwashing for them. Not only do they get to keep externalizing all their costs while privatizing all the profits, but they also get to totally humiliate and defeat the "environmentalists" who used to be thorns in their sides. Meanwhile, they are scooping up all the taxpayer and ratepayer dollars that could be flowing to US to get solar panels on our roofs and efficiency improvements into our homes and businesses, and ACTUALLY saving our planet.

If we are serious enough about global warming to destroy millions of acres of wilderness and deplete all the groundwater in the southwest of the nation, while increasing SF6 emissions and destroying highly-effective carbon sequestering habitats, then you might ask yourself why we are not serious enough to have solar panels (including hot water) on every rooftop in the country. Could it be that this is just another way that Big Energy gets to bleed us dry?

The whole Big Renewables concept is a scam for profits. Buy into it at your (and our planet's) peril. Local, point of use renewables are the solution. Fight for your rights, because nobody is gonna help you or your planet stay afloat...


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