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Protect Our Communities defends communities and nature in San Diego County, Imperial County, and Northern Baja California from harmful energy projects and advances better energy solutions through advocacy and law.

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September 24, 2014 POC News Update

POC supports the Power with the Sun campaign for more rooftop solar and energy efficiency in San Diego. Rooftop solar and energy efficiency are two of the locally controlled, clean energy solutions that are needed in this region.

Today POC sued the federal government in order to protect eagles and other migratory birds at the proposed Tule Wind project. In hopes that a lawsuit could be avoided, since January 2014, POC’s attorneys have sent three letters to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, asking that the agency withdraw its approval of phase II of Iberdrola’s Tule Wind project, in light of myriad legal violations, serious threat to legally protected golden eagles and other migratory birds, and the inadequate response to repeated concerns raised by government wildlife agencies. Read the letters here here and here. In August 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the project’s eagle take permit application as incomplete.

The developers of the proposed $1.6 billion Pio Pico natural gas power plant did not start construction on September 1, as planned, but instead have put the project on hold pending the outcome of a POC lawsuit, according to a U-T San Diego article. In July 2014, POC filed a petition in state appellate court in San Diego, challenging the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) approval of the Pio Pico Energy Center, a proposed $1.6 billion natural gas power plant. The petition shows that the CPUC violated California state law when it approved the Pio Pico power plant in 2013, by failing to carry out its duty to protect SDG&E customers from unnecessary and expensive power company boondoggles. The CPUC barred testimony showing there was no need for Pio Pico and refused to consider any alternatives to the gas plant.

Three comment letters were submitted on behalf of POC and its allies on the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Soitec Solar project in Boulevard. The project’s thousands of solar trackers, each about the height of a three-story house, would be placed in environmentally sensitive areas and would industrialize rural land. Rooftop solar and energy efficiency are better clean energy solutions.

The public has until November 4, 2014 to comment on the draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for SDG&E’s Master Special Use permit project. In March 2014, POC submitted supplemental scoping comments to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and U.S. Forest Service for SDG&G’s Master Special Use Permit project in and around the Cleveland National Forest. We thank the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and U.S. Forest Service for opening a supplemental scoping period in response to requests by POC and other groups. POC participated in the prehearing conference on Feb. 5, 2014 and submitted scoping comments in Nov. 2013.

Work continues on a POC-funded study of San Diego’s potential for Community Choice Aggregation, an alternative to traditional utility company monopolies such as San Diego Gas & Electric.

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