The ugly battle between rural residents and alternative energy mandates in California

Seems the Mojave evictions WERE to make way for solar and wind projects

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Guest post by Alec Rawls

In 2006 California’s Senate Bill 107 codified a requirement that by 2010 all electricity retailers in the state were to procure 20% of their electricity from “renewables.” That same year L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich established Nuisance Abatement Teams that started combing the Mojave desert hitting isolated residents with ever-expanding lists of code violations, imposing whatever it took to drive residents out, and they made their intentions perfectly clear:

As her ordeal wore on, she heard one agent, looking inside their comfortable cabin, say to another: “This one’s a real shame — this is a real nice one.”

A “shame” because the authorities eventually would enact some of the most powerful rules imaginable against rural residents: the order to bring the home up to current codes or dismantle the 26-year-old cabin, leaving only bare ground.

“They wouldn’t let me grandfather in the water tank,” Jacques Dupuis says. “It is so heart-wrenching because there was a way to salvage this, but they wouldn’t work with me. It was, ‘Tear it down. Period.’ ”

The immediate object in this case was actual confiscation of the land:

In order to clear the title on their land, the Dupuises are spending what would have been peaceful retirement days dismantling every board and nail of their home — by hand — because they can’t afford to hire a crew.

As the de facto evictions and confiscations multiplied, Antonovich’s motives were questioned. Was he trying to clear the land for redevelopment? In August of 2011, Antonivich Press Secretary Tony Bell denied it (at 8:40):

The county is simply responding to code violation complaints from neighbors in the area and any speculation about redevelopment was purely a conspiracy theory.

I did some Google searching at the time to see if any major wind or solar developments were planned for the area where the evictions were centered (the western Mojave’s Antelope Valley), but couldn’t pin down the connection. When First Solar recently cleared a permit for a massive Antelope Valley project I tried again and found some things I should have seen before.

It seems the wraps were already off when Antonovich issued his denials. Newspapers had reported just a month before that Antelope Valley had “33 utility-scale renewable energy installations” in the works. The updated map above shows how much of the valley has been sectioned off for various wind and solar projects.

These are presumably the anonymous “neighbors” who were asking for previous residents to be evicted. Apparently it is not enough that our green crony capitalists are getting billions in taxpayer subsidies, or that that rate-payers are forced to buy their “renewable” energy at extra-high prices. They also need their pet politicians to steal the land for them.

First Solar is the largest recipient of Obama loan guarantees at $3.73b

From last June:

The Arizona company is set to get a guarantee for a $680 million loan for the 230 MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch 1 project, partial guarantees for $1.88 billion in loans for the 550 MW Desert Sunlight project and partial guarantees for $1.93 billion in loans for the 550 MW Topaz Solar project. Electricity from these projects will go to utilities Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison.

PG&E and SCE. It’s all to feed California’s renewables mandate, now raised to 33% by 2020. (That’s Senate Bill X1-2, signed by Governor Brown in 2011.)

California is the perfect patsy. First Solar makes its own cadmium-telluride solar panels. Another cadmium-telluride panel manufacturer, Abound Solar (recipient of $400 million in loan guarantees) just shut down production, but First Solar doesn’t have to worry how much it costs to produce intermittent solar in the Mojave. California residents are required by law to pay whatever it takes. That’s the key to successful green crony capitalism: vertical green-subsidy integration. Solyndra and Abound really should have known. They weren’t corrupt enough.

Grumman Aircraft objected that First Solar’s 2100 acre AV Solar Ranch One would interfere with its stealth radar testing, but this concern was brushed aside:

A solar energy generating plant is “the highest and best use for this particular property,” said Mel Layne, president of the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance.

More important than national security and certainly more important than the property rights of a bunch of isolated “desert rats.” If only we didn’t have the lowest and the worst telling us what the “highest and the best” is, but this is why we have rights. The voluntary nature of the market insures that the benefits from each transaction are sufficient to make all parties better off. As soon as government starts subsidizing loans, forcing customers to buy inefficiently produced power, and otherwise confiscating property, there are no limits to the losses.

Wind was also big on the Antelope Valley menu, but the opposition firmed up

Perhaps that should be re-phrased. Antelope Valley was also big on the wind farmers’ menu:

“The western Antelope Valley boasts both the highest and most consistent winds in almost all of Southern California,” said Nat Parker, project manager for Element Power’s proposed Wildflower Green Energy Farm. “Between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. the winds reach their highest peak, and it falls in line with when the electrical grid has highest demand.”

County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who represents the unincorporated Antelope Valley, said this region “has the potential to become the nation’s leader in green, alternative energy innovation and production.” But he emphasized that community support is key to the success of these projects.

Element wants to use 4,000 acres of private land next to the poppy reserve for solar panels and some 50 wind turbines almost 500 feet high. Each turbine would produce enough electricity to power up to 2,000 homes, Parker said.

As for the wisdom of putting 500 foot tall wind turbines in the Antelope Valley, Antonovich’s own website has an item on the hurricane force winds that struck the area early last December. That nice peak-demand wind isn’t going to help much when half the turbines are on the ground.

Thankfully, the opposition has organized sufficiently to block the big windmills. Even Antonovich is cowed enough to put a wet finger in the air and pretend that he is all about protecting birds now, but of course he’s not done yet. Next in Antonovich’s sights: high speed rail to Las Vegas. Weather warning for the eastern Mojave: 80% chance of confiscatory Nuisance Abatement Teams. S#!+$torm guaranteed.

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Andrew30

I’ll see your California Senate Bill 107 and raise you a Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Now get the [snip] off my land.

Seriously, reading stuff like this makes me angry and wonder what is has gone wrong in the people in the Good’oll US of A.
If they needed a swat team to confiscate each one of these people’s homes, would they do it?
If it’s not worth fighting for then it’s not worth fighting for.

ntesdorf

This sounds just like Government Organized Crime. Once again CAGW is seen to be the cloak for social activism and criminal activity, environmental destruction and political intrigue.

Andrew30

The people in the western Mojave’s Antelope Valley could:
1. Create an armed militia (This is allowed)
2. Occupy the municipal offices (This tactic is encouraged by the current President of the United States)
3. Dismiss the current municipal government as unfit to govern (This type of thing was done once before)
4. Proclaim the Constitution of the United States as the sole law governing the municipality. (This has also been done before)
5. Wait.

markx

Well.
I’ve lived in developing countries for a long time. People always make a point of commenting how ‘corrupt’ these places are. And they are, but that is just the way the system has worked for hundreds of years.
But, experiences in such economies have left me with a very keen nose to recognize corruption in our so-called more advanced western societies.
Whenever someone is being overly bureaucratic and pedantic, whenever rules seem a little illogical but are still enforced to the letter rather than the intent, whenever authorities seem ‘stupid’ and ‘unreasonable’ in the decisions that are being made ……
…. Somewhere, somehow, someone is making some money.

Andrew30

This is exactly this type of organized government corruption that sustains the peoples need for the mafia in the south of Italy. The mafia in the south of Italy does not in most cases corrupt the government but rather protects the people from government corruption and bureaucratic tyranny.
It really bothers me when the socialism of the inner-city reaches out and pounds on independent hard working people living quietly in the rural parts of the country.

They also need their pet politicians to steal the land for them.
Well, geez — what’s the use in bribing a pol in the first place if you can’t count on getting a return on your money?

AllanJ

What a shame we don’t have a Constitution anymore. The last phrase of the Fifth amendment of the one we used to have said: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
I fear we have gone adrift in an uncharted sea of interpretations unconstrained by the words of the Constitution or the intent of those who wrote and ratified it.

What has gone wrong indeed!

crosspatch

It would seem to me that Michael Antonovich needs to go.
He didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to establish these Nuisance Abatement Teams. There was a reason.

Next in Antonovich’s sights: high speed rail to Las Vegas. Weather warning for the eastern Mojave: 80% chance of confiscatory Nuisance Abatement Teams. S#!+$torm guaranteed.
No prob — just post a couple of signs on the access roads:
“US Government Property — Undocumented Democrat Voter Transit Corridor — LEO Entry Strictly Prohibited”…

Mac the Knife

Some how the “Join Michele and tell Michele you’re in! Obama Biden 2012” ad running just under the article seemed ironically appropriate for this story! It’s all for the common good… and if a few little people get run over in the process…er, I mean ‘the 1 per cent’ have their wealth redistributed, then that is just necessary and right. Any self respecting community activist would understand, right? Right???
It’s like something right out of communist China, comrades…… This isn’t ;eminent domain’. It’s just stealing in the name of ‘green energy’ and somebodies in the building permits and codes departments are getting their pockets well lined to do it!

I am trying to be sympathetic.
But….
You (Californians) voted for loons like Waters and Pelosi.
Not once but several times!
Can’t help those who won’t help themselves.
And……
How is that hope and change working out for you?

SandyInDerby

Genesis with Peter Gabriel “Get Em By Friday”

Neil Jones

It’s amazing, since Obama became president the stories coming out of the USA increasingly resemble those we used to get about Zimbabwe. I guess that is where they are taking you too?

Skeptikal

“California residents are required by law to pay whatever it takes.”
The land of the free… as long as you pay!

Someone should do a modern version remake of the movie Chinatown. Instead of water, they’re after solar.

Roy

We have similar problems in Britain. Only yesterday plans were reported to disfigure the landscape that inspired the novels of the Bronte sisters by erecting a huge “wind farm” there.
Fears over wind turbine plans in Bronte country
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/9189105/Fears-over-wind-turbine-plans-in-Bronte-country.html
Plans to build a £12 million wind farm on the “wild and wonderful” moorland that inspired Wuthering Heights have enraged conservationists and locals.

SSam

And Californians wonder why we point and snicker…

Peter Miller

Interesting – now try opening a mine here and see the immediate greenie outcry demanding protection of the environment, the pristine views, the desert tortoise and obscure lizards.
Do I note a whiff of gross hypocrisy?

Snotrocket

As an Englishman I was having difficulty putting a definition or emotion to one of Willis’s words. Well, no longer: this story bloody well ‘angrifies’ me!

Skeptikal says:
April 7, 2012 at 12:57 am
“California residents are required by law to pay whatever it takes.”
Easy solution — emigrate.
Among the top 10 reasons businesses are pulling out of California — “Energy costs soaring because of new laws and regulations. Commercial electrical rates are already 50% higher than the rest of the country, [Irvine, CA, relocation consultant Joe] Vranich says, and Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a new law increasing the amount of power utilities must buy from renewable sources…”
http://jan.ocregister.com/2011/04/15/more-firms-move-jobs-facilities-out-of-california/57653/

Antonovich , send them off to Tin City , it’s the nearest place to Siberia where uncle Joe sent his ‘unwashed’.

Chris

My God! This sad and very worrying tale about these guys reads like a latter day Crassus, who stole the land and property from the victims of Sulla’s proscriptions!
The more things change…….

Shevva

Shame they could not afford to go up against this Government backed eviction then again if your retired your not paying taxes so your local and national Government couldn’t give a sh*t about you, remember solar panels are more important to Gaia than people so it’s only ordinary people that lose.
Move along nothing to see here, we’re just saving the planet.

Galane

You have not converted a man because you have silenced him. – John Viscount Morley
I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time. – H. L. Mencken
Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had. – Michael Crichton
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak. – Jay Leno
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. – Sir Winston Churchill
If there is a significant difference between theory and practice, then the theory is wrong or incomplete – Eolake Stobblehouse

David A

‘California residents are required by law to pay whatever it takes.”
The land of the free… as long as you pay!
——————————————————-
There will not be anyone left to pay at this rate. Sales tax and payroll tax, y,o,y. to February, are down about 16% this year, and going south from there as money leaves the state. The only equality we will soon have is poverty, minuus of course, the few.

jaymam

Did anyone save a copy of the map?
This is what I get:
http://www.avhidesert.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=1442
AV Hi Desert forum
“I’m sorry, but you are banned. You may not post, read threads, or access the forum. Please contact your forum administrator should you have any questions.”
[the link works fine for me, you must have irritated them 🙂 . . kbmod]

mfo

A quick search found these videos of the desecration of the Mojave Desert:
http://www.naturefootage.com/stockfootage/Mojave_Desert?sid=23cc4cde57ff71698d5e09d728df8d2fb42ac3c4&page_start_num=1
It’s a site called Nature Footage but it’s just hundreds of wind turbines and solar panels.

ozspeaksup

pretty sure I remember reading a LOT of Cali land business and housing was bought cheap..by chinese investors.
theyre not going to be real happy with the rising costs either.
funny.
as to Land theft under duress and faked cuse.
well the African evictions to plant trees to save the planet seems sooo similar.
now its AT home.
and Aus has the same theft and manipulation of land use happening too.

Ian W

Welcome to the progressive world.
This has already been reported by WUWT as happening in Africa :
They had to burn the village to save it from ‘global warming’ . Where villages were razed to the ground and fertile farming land used by small holders was planted with the alien eucalyptus trees.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/25/they-had-to-burn-the-village-to-save-it-from-global-warming/
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/22/world/africa/in-scramble-for-land-oxfam-says-ugandans-were-pushed-out.html?_r=4&scp=3&sq=uganda&st=cse
So now the progressives feel comfortable doing what they did in Africa, in California. Using EPA and other regulatory powers to go around Congress and State legislatures. To feather their own nests on the pretext of a claim of an unproven affect on ‘climate’.
Think that you are yours are safe from being ‘protected’ by a party donor?

jaymam

Possibly they didn’t like my New Zealand IP address.
However I have saved much of their site from the Google cache if anyone needs it one day.

FerdinandAkin

Andrew30 says:
April 6, 2012 at 11:16 pm
I’ll see your California Senate Bill 107 and raise you a Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Andrew,
There once was a confrontation in Tennessee back in 1946 called the Battle of Athens where the citizens were having trouble using the ballot box. When the ballot box was determined not to be working, they resorted to another box, which also starts with the letter ‘B’, and solved their problem.

This has UN agenda 21 and ICLEI written all over it. See:
http://www.democratsagainstunagenda21.com/
Also view a great video by ROSA KOIRE who is a liberal, feminist, lifelong democrat & a lesbian too, BUT is also an expert forensic commercial real estate appraiser specializing in eminent domain valuation.
A really informative video:

Oatley

Remember the Nazis?
They were first, “social democrats.”

Steve Keohane

I imagine it could be very dangerous to actually work on the project, considering the disgruntled citizenry that have been evicted. Surely some may hang onto their 2nd amendment rights and make it difficult for anything to ever exist there.

Chris Riley

I have always suspected that the CAGW movement is nothing more than vehicle to be used to transport our society from the one our Founding Fathers created for individuals, to one which more closely resembles serfdom, or one of serfdom’s more modern equivalents.

DaveR

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
Ronald Reagan

Absolutely insidious !!
All in the name of “The Cause”

Roger Carr

Sad days, America. Decent folk will prevail; but the costs they will bear should not be asked of them. Stand tall; the whole world holds in high regard the decent American — and needs you.

MattN

I know the weather is unbelievable in California, but with “these people” making the rules, I don’t understand how California isn’t losing residents faster than Michigan…

Robert of Ottawa

Truly wrong; Antonovich is a Stalinist Commissar

Andrew30 says:
April 6, 2012 at 11:36 pm
The people in the western Mojave’s Antelope Valley could:
1. Create an armed militia (This is allowed)
2. Occupy the municipal offices (This tactic is encouraged by the current President of the United States)
3. Dismiss the current municipal government as unfit to govern (This type of thing was done once before)
4. Proclaim the Constitution of the United States as the sole law governing the municipality. (This has also been done before)
5. Wait.
———–
Isn’t this type of thing exactly why you guys have the Second Amendment?

They voted for this. Now California falls upon its own Eco-Sword. I think wind farms should be built in Right behind the ” Hollywood” sign and in Berkley too, and Sacramento.

William Abbott

Trampling on the property rights of the “little guys” – that’s what building codes and zoning laws and the endangered species act and wetlands protection are all about. “We got to clean it up and move you out” because the beautiful people don’t want you here and the beautiful people have no intention of paying “fair and square” for what they think is needed. The constitution protects us against seizure for public use without just compensation. It’s time for the courts to start interpreting that clause honestly.

Also from the forum with the maps is is the Feb 8th post
http://www.avhidesert.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=2203 which shows the County doesn’t discriminate – they are looking to maximize taxes, err, fees, err, income from their county. In part:
Solar groups sue Riverside County over ‘sun tax’
Supervisors say fee is needed to offset the long-term impacts of development
Article
Written by
K Kaufmann
The Desert Sun
Two solar and energy industry trade groups are suing Riverside County in an effort to roll back the county’s annual fee of $450 per acre on large-scale solar projects.
The Large-Scale Solar Association and the Independent Energy Producers Association filed the suit Friday in Riverside County Superior Court in Indio, and the county received notice Monday, said Shannon Eddy, executive director of the LSA.
At least two solar companies with projects in eastern Riverside County — enXco and BrightSource — said they were not a part of the suit and declined comment.
Jan Smutny-Jones, executive director of the IEPA, said his organization and the LSA decided to move forward on the lawsuit to meet a deadline this week for a constitutional challenge to the policy.
The suit asks the court for an injunction on the fee and a ruling that it is illegal under state law, either as a tax or mitigation fee.
“According to Proposition 26, taxes cannot masquerade as ‘fees’ or ‘charges,’” Smutny- Jones said.
“A county is allowed to charge fees for services rendered or impacts, or they can charge a reasonable fee,” he said. “They are not empowered to parlay that into a $450-per-acre tax.”
The county Board of Supervisors passed the fee — officially called Policy B-29 — unanimously on Nov. 8, arguing it was needed to offset the long-term impacts of solar development in eastern Riverside County.
The supervisors also maintained that the fee is neither an impact fee nor a tax, and therefore not subject to state regulations or laws related to either.
“We stand behind board policy B-29,” Supervisor John J. Benoit said in a statement emailed to The Desert Sun on Monday. “We will decide how to proceed after we have been fully briefed by legal counsel.”
At present, two large- scale solar projects are under construction in the Riverside East solar zone, a stretch of public land between Joshua Tree National Park and the city of Blythe, and three more are in the planning stages.
Of the two under construction, NextEra Energy’s 250-megawatt Genesis project was the only one approved before the board began working on the fee policy and is exempt.
First Solar, the original developer of the second project, the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight plant, struck a deal with the county, agreeing to a $600,000 per-year fee.
Of the project’s 4,000 acres, most are on federal land, with about 9.7 acres belonging to the county, First Solar spokeswoman Laura Abram said. The company has since sold the project to NextEra and GE.
The apparent lack of any connection between the fee and the impacts of the solar projects has been a point of contention between the county and solar developers since the issue first surfaced last year.
The board originally directed staff to come up with a policy for “revenue generating agreements” for solar projects almost exactly a year ago, on Feb. 8, 2011. The idea for a fee of some sort was in part a reaction to state law, which exempts solar projects from property taxes until 2016.
In June, staff floated an idea of a 2 percent franchise fee that solar developers would have to pay on their yearly gross revenues.
The proposal met strong resistance from solar developers and labor unions that said the proposed fee would freeze solar development in the county and hundreds of project construction jobs.

Richard M

AGW alarmists tend to feel morally superior. They use that to justify their immoral actions … they are doing their part to save the world. There is no way they could ever accept that AGW is a lie. That would mean their actions had no meaning and were, in fact, evil. Now you can understand why they tend to go crazy when dealing with skeptics. It’s no longer a debate. It’s about their entire reason for existence.

North of 43 and south of 44

Find some endangered specie and turn their own rules against them.

Skeptical Citizen

my wife states you never really own your land. Because the county gets to charge you rent on it (property taxes) and they get to decide how much rent you must pay. they use the same nusance envirtonmental regs to close down junk yards and keep folks from having a few old project parts vehicles on their places. When their true agenda is they want all the older classic vehicles to be recycled. The would like to force folks to send their older cars to scrap and make them buy something like a Volt?

Randle Dewees

I live in the north end of the Mojave Desert (near Ridgecrest in the Indian Wells Valley) and without going into details it has been a nightmare – the Ridgecrest Solar Power Project (RSPP) by Solar Millennium AG (SM), its US subsidiary, Solar Trust of America (STA), has been fought tooth and nail by a variety of locals, mostly “environmentalists. And just plain folk desert lovers too that are not environmentalists, who are even actively battling the restrictions being imposed by environmentalists. Kind of an “odd bed fellows” coalition as, in general, we all recognize what a disaster these projects are.
The solar house of cards is fallen down now but the State of California is desperate, we expect some trashing around trying to revive these idiotic power generation projects.
This site lists all the projects out here in the West and has lots of pics.
http://www.basinandrangewatch.org

Luther Wu

jrwakefield says:
April 7, 2012 at 5:34 am
Andrew30 says:
April 6, 2012 at 11:36 pm
The people in the western Mojave’s Antelope Valley could:
1. Create an armed militia (This is allowed)
2. Occupy the municipal offices (This tactic is encouraged by the current President of the United States)
3. Dismiss the current municipal government as unfit to govern (This type of thing was done once before)
4. Proclaim the Constitution of the United States as the sole law governing the municipality. (This has also been done before)
5. Wait.
———–
Isn’t this type of thing exactly why you guys have the Second Amendment?
______________________________
By way of cliche… Great minds think alike.
This report of the abuse of power is becoming all too common in the US.
This Nuisance Abatement Team obviously has a broken moral compass. Perhaps their navigational compass still works.
A team of little petty tyrants bent on confiscation of land and homes could easily get lost in the desolation of the Mojave.