News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

BrightSource, Inyo County Reach Agreement on Hidden HIlls

In the neighborhood of the Hidden Hills project | Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr/Creative Commons License

After several months' worth of wrangling over the potential costs to the county of Inyo from BrightSource's proposed HIdden Hills solar project near Tecopa, the company and the county have reached an agreement. Under the terms of the settlement, BrightSource will pay Inyo County $15 million over the first 18 months of the project's operation.

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The project, which would occupy about 3,277 acres of private land in the Pahrump Valley just inside the California state line, had been criticized by the county for increasing its infrastructural and service burden, requiring additional law enforcement and firefighting services in the remote Charleston Heights area.

Under the terms of the agreement, announced last week, BrightSource would pony up $2.5 million by the beginning of construction, paying the remaining $12.5 million within the first 18 months of the plant's operation. BrightSource will be able to credit some tax obligations it may owe the county toward the full amount.

The agreement also includes some provisions relating to decommissioning, use of overweight trucks on county roads, and Inyo County's claims on certain roads on-site.

With the agreement, Inyo County agrees not to oppose the project before the California Energy Commission, currently conducting hearings on the project in Sacramento. That's one less opponent for BrightSource, which hopes to start construction on the plant this year. But will one less project opponent make a difference? ReWire will have more on the Hidden Hills hearings as the week progresses.


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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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Hidden Hills should be fought until it is stopped at any cost. Impeach Obama. He's worthless as a leader. What a dud. Hidden Hills is proposed to be built between Pahrump Valley Wilderness and Nopah Wilderness. These areas were carefully selected and voted on by both the Senate and House of Representatives and selected, and I quote: The Congress finds and declares that the federally owned desert lands of souther California constitute a public wildland resortce of extraordinary and inestimable value for this and future generations. End quote.

So with a whisk of pen and money in a politician's pocket, the designation is meaningless. When those 2 solar plant go in, very tall heliostat towers wil shine light between these 2 unique scenic, historical archeological, environmental, ecological, wildlife, cultural, scientific, educational and recreational valued land to be enjoyed by millions of Americans for hiking and camping scientific study and scenic appreciation.

According to the project paperwork, Once operational, the entire 500-MW net project would require up to 140 acre feet of groundwater per year (an acre foot of water equals 325,851 gallons).

140 (acre feet ) x 325, 851 (gallons per acre foot) = 45,619,140 gallons of local groundwater per year.
Multiply this conservative estimate by 30 years = 1,368,574,200 gallons of desert groundwater over 30 years

No one has discussed the desert dust storms like the ones at Ivanpah.

The place will become a wasteland!!!! What good is wasting congress' time designating areas to be kept intact for our great grandchildren and making a farce of the Endangered Species Act by removing tortoises and letting the ones they don't move take their chances. Got news for everyone, either we stop this from continuing or we're all just pant loads.


By the way Chris, thanks for being out here, reporting on these topics. I live in the Tehachapi Pass in wind turbine hell. There is not a raptor to be seen. Dead and gone forever. I made a youtube video of Kern County's planning director reading a staff report. What is worth listening for are the remarks about "Takes" of eagles and condors. The Supervisors and planning personnel have no training or education as it pertains to protecting our wildlife laws. It's just about money. Look at the woman. She needs to cut down on her intake of donuts.


Please don't dilute your excellent points with irrelevant comments about people's body sizes. Let's keep the conversation on topic.

(Don't get me wrong: I definitely appreciate your thanks, but I wonder if you'd have offered them if you knew I'm fatter than Ms. Oviatt.)