A staggering full moon, bright and round as a gold doubloon, rose over the western Antelope Valley last Thursday, Jan. 20. It was $1 taco night at WeeVill Market on Highway 138, near Neenach. The tacos are delicious, we’re told, but that is not why there were 50 cars out front at 6:30 p.m. Inside, there was a meeting going on. At times the dialogue was hotter than the WeeVill salsa.
The new Fairmont Town Council and about 55 residents of areas known as Neenach, Antelope Acres, Holiday Valley Estates, The Lakes and Fairmont had gathered to hear from alternative energy companies that are seeking to build solar and wind turbine facilities in their neighborhood. In fact, residents have counted 33 such companies that have expressed intentions of building wind or solar facilities in the California Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) known as Fairmont. In fact, Fairmont’s placement on a chart published about the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) makes Fairmont look, literally, like a low hanging plum. The rush toward this windy, dry region that springs alive with glorious poppies once a year was manufactured in Sacramento last year.
Nonetheless, the western Antelope Valley was targeted in November by the California Public Utilities Commission as one of the three most efficient regions for generation and transmission of solar and wind energy in the state, and the gold rush was on.
The Fairmont Council was formed, Bob Plumlee, a rancher who was born and raised here, and David Kerr said, in large part to give the people who live in the area a chance “to avoid the area a chance “to avoid being steam-rollered by all these companies.”
The Fairmont Council and attorney David Jefferies have already filed an appeal to the “negative declaration” status given by Los Angeles County Planning Department to Alpine NRG Solar that hoped to rush into construction without an Environmental Impact Review.
The Fairmont Council’s appeal was accompanied by a second lodged by Friends of Antelope Valley Open Space and Westside Concerned Citizens, filed on January 3.
“We want to set some standards and criteria for how these projects are going to be handled,” Margaret Rhyne said.
Rancher Plumlee agrees.
He said he is “basically an advocate for development. We need some development out here, but I want to see them do an environmental review first.”
The good news is that the two companies that came to meet the residents on January 20 got the message loud and clear. Both vowed that they intend to do full environmental impact reports.
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