Friday, March 19, 2010

Proposed Solar on the Westlands, Feinstein gets good science, and the RNC throws vote-trading accusations

© 2010 Joshua Stark

Here is a great, short document on the value of the Westlands Irrigation District to California... as a solar generator.
The author, Bill Powers of Powers Engineering, explained in these comments to the California Energy Commission that 5% of the Westlands could provide 5,000 MW of solar energy to the state.

Wouldn't it be great if we converted, say, 1/3rd of the Westlands to solar, 1/3rd we restored to native habitat (for water and air quality improvements, too), and kept 1/3rd in ag. production?

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times reports that the National Academy of Sciences has weighed in on the California Delta issue, per Feinstein's request, and found that water export cuts are completely justified.

I hope this settles the issue for our senator, but based on this conversation (including Feinstein telling a reporter that Lake Shasta is spilling over the top right now), I doubt it.

Meanwhile, California Watch reports that the Republican National Committee is accusing San Joaquin Valley Democrats and the Obama Administration of trading a "yes" vote on health care for more water.  It's not outside the realm of possibility, but it doesn't look like it from my vantage point right now.  Here is a link to the DOI statement of water allocation increases.  Note that everybody is getting increases, because of the amount of water currently in the mountains.  The important number is for flows South of the Delta to secondary water rights' holders, which DOI is increasing from 5% of allocation to 25%.  I fully expected this increase, so again, the accusation seems flimsy to me right now.

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