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Desert Communities Stand Against Mayor Villaraigosa & DWP

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Located on the eastbound I-10 Fwy near Cabazon, CA | Photo via the California Desert Coalition

Located on the eastbound I-10 Fwy near Cabazon, CA | Photo via the California Desert Coalition
90 miles east of Los Angeles sits this billboard telling Mayor Villaraigosa to cut it out. But why do people far away from LA care? It's the controversial Green Path Power Project, a plan that would bring geothermal, solar, wind and other renewable energy from the Salton Sea area of Imperial Valley to Los Angeles via a new yet-to-built electrical transmission line. As usual with these issues, it's not that green energy is a bad thing, it's how it will be done and what effects it has on the communities the energy is passing through. For Los Angeles to be green from this project, you have to build miles and miles of power lines through a sensitive desert eco-system. Of the routes proposed over the past few years, lines could go through Joshua Tree National Park, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve Area, Pioneertown Mountains Preserve and undeveloped natural areas on public lands.

But last month, the LADWP presented a plan that environmentalists are cautiously happier with. The 80-mile route "would run 230-kilovolt power lines westward from just below Desert Hot Springs in Riverside County to Lytle Creek," explains the San Bernardino Sun. "The path would dip south of the 10 Freeway near Banning, then follow the freeway northwest through San Timoteo Canyon, Loma Linda, Colton and Rialto before terminating in Lytle Creek."

San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry, whose district would carry those lines, still has some concerns, he told the Sun. "What alleviates concerns in one area will raise concerns in another." Sensitive desert ecosystems may be avoided, but new issues arrise with the lines going through the cities of Loma Linda, Grand Terrace, Redlands and San Bernardino. Some of those concerns could be put to rest with underground vaults for the lines.

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"It involves 10 cities and is by no means an easy route," Joseph Ramallo of the LADWP told the Press-Enterprise. "Just as there were opponents who expressed concerns about the route through Morongo and Yucca valleys, we expect there will be concerns raised about [the the route]."