County signs MOU with California Energy Commission that opens door for grants


EL CENTRO – The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a Memorandum of Understanding between the California Energy Commission and the County of Imperial that defined the roles and responsibilities between the two entities.


State representative Manuel Perez authored a bill last year that created a grant program to assist counties in updating their General Plans or land use ordinances related to renewable energy permitting.


Conservation land needs to be set aside to compensate for loss of habitat where renewable energy facilities displace wildlife areas. As renewable energy moves into the Imperial Valley, county plans need to be rewritten. This MOU with the California Energy Commission satisfies one of the requirements the law states to be eligible for state grant money.


Antonio Ortega IID Government affairs, asked that the MOU include the IID as the provider of transmission lines. Ortega said, “The Imperial Irrigation District supports the county’s effort to draw down state funds, but we request that any discussion and permitting of transmission lines include the IID as the local utility company.”


Superintendent Gary Wyatt asked for the inclusion of the IID to be added to the document. He said, “Make it clear in the document that it is our intent work with the IID.”


Carolyn Allen of Brawley was the sole voice opposing the MOU. She opened her remarks by realizing grant money was important for the county, but that the Development of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan’s (DRECP) own scientific panel said the plan was not scientifically sound.


Allen said, “I would like you to keep these issues in mind as you go through this process. The DRECP’s own science panel declared the plan too vague, too disorganized and too slap-dashed. Blogs on the DRECP said the plan lumps wildly different habitat with different ecological characteristics and manages them identically.  The plan also puts industrial development in long established wildlife conservation areas.”


She finished by saying that the Riverside Planning Commissioner submitted the following questions:  How will consistency with the DDRC be determined?  How will land acquisitions decisions be made? What is the funding source for managing, monitoring, acquiring land, and what is the cost of the plan?