Existing views of OWens Lake Solar Demonstration Project site, looking west from Corridor 1 Road. (MWH Americas Inc.)
Existing views of Owens Lake Solar Demonstration Project site, looking west from Corridor 1 Road. (MWH Americas Inc.)

On Dec. 5, the Manzanar Committee announced the launch of a letter-writing campaign urging community members to send letters to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) stating their opposition to the proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch.

The 1,200-acre solar energy generating station would be constructed east of the Owens River, but in a direct line of sight with the Manzanar National Historic Site, which lies to the immediate west.

Although the site would generate electricity that would be delivered to LADWP customers in Los Angeles, its approximately one million solar panels, along with buildings, large equipment, transformers, a substation, transmission lines, and much more, would destroy a significant portion of the historic landscape surrounding Manzanar National Historic Site.

“The importance of maintaining and enhancing the physical characteristics of the Manzanar National Historic Site cannot be downplayed or overlooked,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “One of the most powerful parts of Manzanar is the unobstructed view, and that many of the structures, gardens and other features of the World War II American concentration camp have not been bulldozed over or destroyed by ‘development.’”

Although LADWP has supported the Manzanar Pilgrimage for many years, this proposal is yet another blot on their poor record regarding the site, according to Embrey.

“LADWP has a long and checkered history regarding the establishment of the Manzanar National Historic Site,” he said. “LADWP opposed efforts to establish a National Historic Site at Manzanar, arguing instead for a local memorial park. Even as late as 1991, they continued their efforts to prevent the establishment of a National Historic Site under the auspices of the National Park Service.”

Embrey stressed that the proposed solar ranch represents new heights for LADWP’s insensitivity towards Manzanar.

“The very idea that any land in or around the Manzanar National Historic Site could be used for a massive generating facility would not harm the ongoing efforts to preserve and understand the tragedy of justice that occurred there is simply beyond insensitive, and it’s not just insensitive to the Japanese American community, the survivors of America’s concentration camps and their families,” Embrey lamented. “That gross insensitivity extends to the efforts of the National Park Service, and others who have worked so hard to bring this brief, but essential, part of American history to light.”

Community members are urged to send letters of protest to:

Nadia Parker, Environmental Planning and Assessment, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, 111 N. Hope St., Room 1044, Los Angeles, CA 90012-2607

Comments may also be sent via email to nadia.parker@ladwp.com or to charles.holloway@ladwp.com.

A form letter that can be used is available for download at: http://manzanarcommittee.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/sovsr-form-letter.pdf.

All letters and emails must be received by LADWP no later than 5 p.m. PST on Friday, Dec. 20.

Those who would like to review the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project can read it online at www.ladwp.com/envnotices.

For more information, call the Manzanar Committee at (323) 662-5102 or send email to info@manzanarcommittee.org.

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