July 29, 2008

Con: Department of Power should use existing lines and find alternative energy solutions


by April Sall
Special to The Desert Sun

Green Path North is a proposed power corridor of 500-kilovolt transmission lines that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power wants to carve through pristine desert and desert communities.

LADWP claims that these transmission lines are necessary to bring renewable energy into the urban city to “diversify their energy portfolio.” Development of renewable energy resources including geothermal, solar and wind, should be our highest priority to replace fossil fuels. However, for LADWP to destroy pristine desert and conservation lands in the process, including condemnation of private property, is not a “green” way to go about it. I further disagree that LADWP needs to own its own transmission lines, when there are existing corridors that were established through years of focus and study and could be the shared with other utilities.

Save the canyons

As a third-generation resident of a canyon, I have been fortunate to have an intimate connection to a wild place that is integral to our family heritage. The place is in our bones and is where they will someday rest.

Pipes Canyon was established as the first preserve for The Wildlands Conservancy and protected 8,000 acres of pristine desert-mountain habitat and wetlands. After returning from college in Northern California and working as a biologist for the National Park Service, I accepted a position for conservancy as preserve manager of the Pipes Canyon Preserve.

LADWP threatens this land dear to our community with a new transmission corridor that will unnecessarily devastate us. There are other alternatives we have offered to LADWP, but so far their ears have been deaf to us.

The proposal for this new corridor lacks any detail as to how much renewable energy will come over the line, as well as how and by whom the mixture of renewable and dirty power will be monitored.

Threat of eminent domain

The route through desert communities, branded with LADWP survey markers until recently, traverses 30 miles of private property. Thus, unwilling sellers like homesteaders and conservation nonprofits like the conservancy could see their hard-earned properties condemned under eminent domain.

The project threatens conservation lands creating a potential breach with the public trust. Lands set aside for protection with private or public monies would be unnecessarily impacted for this project. Current and future generations would lose the benefits of these pristine lands established for managed recreation.

More innovative strategies

LADWP does not need to look hard nor far to see more innovative strategies to tap into renewable energy. Forward-thinking cities, including Palm Desert, have backed programs for home owners to go solar with low-cost loans paid back through property taxes. Los Angeles can meet its renewable energy needs without over stepping its bounds and devastating conservation lands under the misleading project name of Green Path North.

April Sall is preserve manager of the Pipes Canyon and Mission Creek Preserve for The Wildlands Conservancy and chairwoman of the California Desert Coalition, a nonpartisan citizen advocacy group created to stop the current Green Path North. www.cadesertco.org