Valley News -

Letter to the editor

 

Last updated 4/19/2019 at 7:05am



Dear Editor:

We were surprised when Council voted to oppose our proposed pumped hydro storage project at its April 9 meeting. We were told LEAPS was on the agenda for consideration, not for decision, and came prepared to discuss the three topics outlined in the agenda – and answer questions.  We have been meeting with councilors and City staff since early 2018, and thought they understood that we are too early in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing process to answer all their questions. We have always been open and accessible, have answered the questions we can, and committed to answering many more as we work through the licensing process. At some point, a formal presentation to Council would have been useful.

We have invited Council to “hold our feet to the fire” to provide benefits to Lake Elsinore and region. We have asked staff to prepare “wish lists” that we can build into the evolving project design. We have committed to working closely with the Lake Elsinore and San Jacinto Watersheds Authority (LESJWA, on which the City is represented) and the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board to optimize the potential benefits expert research shows the project can have on restoring Lake Elsinore, reducing the algae blooms and fish kills, and improving recreation on the lake.

We have asked Council and area residents to keep an open mind regarding potential benefits that can only be evaluated later in the FERC process when environmental and cultural resources studies, geotechnical studies and many others, as well the CEQA 401 process are complete. At this stage, there are many options available for project design and electricity transmission routes.

Council’s action was premature and didn’t allow for a public discussion of facts and mitigation of issues identified by residents. It appears to have been based on old information, impatience with our FERC-directed progress, and unfounded allegations from a small number of area residents that do not reflect the facts and research presented to date.

The citizens of Lake Elsinore are right to raise concerns about any major project of this scope. Our research shows that less than 20 percent of the area residents are aware of the project, and many of them say they can’t make an informed decision yet. Residents also deserve to maximize the public benefit from such a project, if it proceeds. We expected the experienced local government would be leveraging this project on their behalf and holding us accountable for delivery. At this early stage, Council should be saying “We can’t support the project until you do all this” not “we will pre-empt discussion of potential benefit.”

Kierstin Ross

Project Manager

Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage (LEAPS)

 

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