Net-metering modernization bill filed in the Kentucky Senate

On Wednesday, Senate bill 100 passed the Senate Comittee on Natural Resources and now awaits the House. The Kentucky bill will allow utility regulators to structure how solar customers are credited for the excess power they generate. The bill will help modernize the relationship between utilities and solar companies creating a better transition into the solar future. Make Solar Safe will continue to update consumers on positive bills that promote safe and fair energy practices.

Net-metering modernization bill filed in the Kentucky Senate

By GLI advocacy

An important piece of legislation that will modernize Kentucky’s net-metering laws and help the Commonwealth to maintain affordable energy rates has been filed in the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 100, sponsored by Senator Brandon Smith (R-Hazard), proposes allowing the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) to determine the value of excess energy generated by future solar-energy customers. Overseeing energy rates and ensuring they are reasonable and fair is one of the core functions of the PSC.

Under current law, which was written in the previous decade, electric utility businesses are required to credit solar-energy customers for excess energy at the retail rate, which equates to a 300 percent premium relative to other sources of power. This policy requires the costs to fully cover the energy grid to be shifted to all customers. While the fiscal impact of this system today is relatively modest, costs are projected to increase as solar continues becoming more affordable and popular. Senate Bill 100 presents an opportunity for Kentucky to get out ahead of a problem that will cause serious economic harm in the near future. Allowing the PSC to study and determine fair rates will help avoid cost-shifts and keep energy affordable for all Kentuckians.

Under Senate Bill 100, solar energy will still continue to thrive in the Commonwealth. Solar customers would still be able to export excess energy to the grid. The bill would grandfather in all existing solar-energy customers under current statute. Any rate change proposed by the PSC would only apply to customers who begin services after the bill’s proposed implementation date of January 1, 2020. On top of this, Senate Bill 100 would raise the cap on the size of eligible systems from 30kw to 45 kw, a 50 percent increase that would encourage the growth of the solar industry. 

Senate Bill 100 proposes a modernized net-metering structure that is sustainable, fair, and forward-looking. GLI strongly supports this legislation as a way to keep energy rates in our region affordable, which is key to economic growth and business attraction.

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If Renewable Energy Is So Cheap, Why Are Utility Rates Going Up?

A major selling point for renewable energy is the initial promise of cheaper rates for customers. However, many consumers experience their utility rates become more expensive over time.

The increase of renewable energy through policy such as net metering has shown that rooftop solar energy is still in developing stages. The grid is not equipped to handle the distribution of solar energy. This causes an increase in utility bills to pay for infrastructure to better distribute energy to consumers. Promoting cheaper rates is a good strategy to convince consumers to go green, but not always accurate due to frequent policy change and infrastructure projects.

If Renewable Energy Is So Cheap, Why Are Utility Rates Going Up?

By Steve Hanley

In a recent story about renewable energy initiatives in the Midwest, we quoted David Lundy, head of the Path To 100 Coalition in Illinois, who said a bill before that state’s legislature to expand its renewable energy programs would add “a couple of bucks a month” to the average customer’s utility bill. That got a response from CleanTechnica reader Bob Meyer, who wrote,

“An issue I have been wondering about came up in this article. The comment by David Lundy about renewable energy expansion will add “a couple of bucks a month” to the average customer’s utility bill. What I am confused about is that wholesale renewable power is becoming the lowest cost form of generation, but I do not see any mention of these apparent cost savings translating into ratepayer rate reductions. Rather, there are occasional mentions of increased utility consumer costs. So my question is where are these “savings” going? Someone must be pocketing them. Does the ratepayer ever get to participate in these savings?”

Meyer continues, “I am a big supporter of renewable energy and enjoy the many excellent articles on CleanTechnica. But I am worried that if the general public keeps hearing about renewable energy and at the same time see their utility bill going up and up, how can we expect broad support? The traditional utility model uses its rate payers as cash cows. With the build out of renewable energy, are we going down the same path?”

Those are excellent questions. One of the biggest arguments against the initiative to increase Arizona’s renewable energy standard last fall was that ever since California started mandating more renewable energy, utility rates have gone up significantly. Of course, opponents were careful not to research why those rate increases occurred, as the standard for debate in America today is to lie through your teeth as often as necessary to “win.” But Bob Meyer raises a good point and I promised to look into his concerns.

Coincidentally, I recently found an article by CNBC stating that utility customers in Germany can expect bigger utility bills as more renewable energy is brought online in that country. By some estimates, German transmission system operators expect to spend upwards of €80 billion over the next 12 years to build new transmission infrastructure to move all that new renewable energy from where it is created to where it is needed.

Up to half of the demand for power in German’s industrial south will need to come from renewable sources located in the north. Already three new underground trunks are planned for completion by 2025 and the TSOs say two more may be needed in addition. They also say another €52 billion may be needed to connect offshore wind farms to the mainland.

Add it all up and it comes to some seriously big money. The upshot is that even if the wind and the sun are free, the interconnections that get all that power to where it is needed will cost beaucoup bucks. So the answer to Bob Meyer’s question is, generating solar and wind power is getting cheaper all the time, but connecting them to the traditional grid is getting more expensive.

Approximately one quarter of all utility bills go to paying for infrastructure. As those costs go up, so do our electric bills. Finding ways to deliver zero emissions electricity to end users more economically would go along way toward lowering them, which would help get more people interested in renewables. That, in turn, would be good for us, our nation, and our world. 

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More Trouble for Huawei: U.S. Lawmakers Question “Threat” of Solar Panels

U.S. legislators hold a growing concern over low-cost solar panels being imported by Huawei believing their products are causing harm to the electrical grid. Huawei’s products have been affected by the recent 25 percent tariff on Chinese electronics that became effective on Aug. 23, 2018. Politicians have warned these low-cost panels “may pose a threat to our nation’s infrastructure.” According to Reuters, Utah-based Vivint Solar confirmed it is considering using Huawei’s inverters to its line-up. Make Solar Safe has previously warned consumers on the investigation Vivint Solar is undergoing by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. The charges include allegations of unfair business practices, fraud and racketeering. New modernizations to make solar panels cheaper and more accessible could have negative consequences to the solar market. Make Solar Safe supports consumer rights to a safe transition to solar. 

More Trouble for Huawei: U.S. Lawmakers Question “Threat” of Solar Panels

By Luca Laursen

Huawei’s troubles continue to gather pace.

In recent months the telecoms giant has had its CFO Meng Wanzhou arrested in Canada, been barred from the construction of 5G networks in the U.K, Australia, and New Zealand, and had a sales director arrested in Poland on suspicion of espionage (Poland is also considering a ban on the use of Huawei products).

Now, suspicion has spread to the Chinese firm’s sideline in solar panels. U.S. tariffs already posed a barrier to Huawei’s entry into the country’s growing solar market, but American politicians now claim the firm’s panels could be sleeper agents for disrupting the U.S. electrical grid.

In October, Democratic congressman Tom Marino wrote to U.S. energy secretary Rick Perry about their concerns, stating Huawei’s cheaper solar panel technology “may pose a threat to our nation’s infrastructure.”

On top of this, legislators introduced bills on Wednesday that would restrict sales of U.S. technology to Chinese telecoms companies in violation of sanctions or export control laws.

In response to the gathering storm, Huawei founder and president Ren Zhengfei Tuesday told reporters that he was ready to fight the mounting charges against his company. Huawei’s chief security officer in the U.S. told the Financial Times, “There is no evidence, and I have never heard any specific allegation that there is any greater vulnerability in our products than anybody else’s.”

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Dutch power grid struggling under influx of solar panels: report

Countries all over the world are running into the same problems in their transition to go solar. Large scale solar power is being hindered by outdated power grids. The electrical grid was built with the intention of steady and predictable energy flow. The grid does not have the technology for distributing renewable energy. Causing a strain on the electrical grid and restricting large scale projects. Upgrades are needed in grid capacity before going green, which would last years and cost billions.

Dutch power grid struggling under influx of solar panels: report

By Janene Pieters

In some areas in the Netherlands the power grid is struggling to cope with the large number of new solar panels installed over the past few years, various Dutch newspapers report.

According to the Telegraaf, there is talk of “traffic jams” on the grid. In parts of Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel, network operators Enexis and Tennet have to say “no” to the initiators of new large-scale projects, the Volkskrant and Financieele Dagblad report. According to FD, a lack of power cables is even standing in the way of the switch to green energy.

These problems don’t affect individuals much, as they can’t be refused if they apply to install solar panels on their home. But large-scale consumers and suppliers can be told no, which means that the dreams of investors who want to build solar parks on farmland and the green ambitions of football clubs are being shattered, the newspapers write. 

The north and east of the country in particular are facing problems, because the land there is the cheapest and so desirable for investors, but these areas have the thinnest cables in the ground. 

“Our electricity grid is not built for what we expect now”, a spokesperson for network operator Liander said, according to RTL Nieuws. Expanding the grid capacity to make room for solar power will take years and cost billions of euros. 

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Forklift unloading solar panels in Polk County catches fire, does $2 million in damage

Solar panels change the nature of fires regardless of if they are installed or in transit to be installed. They contain hazardous substances that release carcinogens when burned.  Carcinogens are known to be capable of causing cancer and other health problems to those exposed. Make Solar Safe prioritizes educating consumers on hazards involving solar panels.  

Forklift unloading solar panels in Polk County catches fire, does $2 million in damage

By Chip Skambis

BARTOW, Fla. – A forklift in use to unload and install solar panels in Polk County caught fire Sunday morning, causing an estimated $2 million in damages, firefighters said. 

The diesel forklift caught fire around 7 a.m. off of Bonnie Mine Road just outside of Bartow. The fire spread quickly to the solar panels, firefighters said. 

Because solar panels contain chemicals that emit carcinogens when burned, firefighters were fully packed out, using copious amounts of water to put it out. 

Extinguishing the fire took more than four hours, firefighters said. 

The firefighters then underwent a full decontamination to ensure they were not exposed to carcinogens. 

Firefighters have not yet determined the cause of the fire. 

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Solar panel mandates for new Nevada homes would be an awful idea

The December trend of bad policy to create “affordable housing” will do the exact opposite in Nevada if officials choose to follow California’s green mandates on builders and homebuyers. Earlier this month, California made a law requiring all new homes be built with installed rooftop solar panels. Shortly after California announced that bill, the Environmental America Research & Policy Center, a nonprofit that promotes renewable energy, released a report urging Nevada to jump on board or it would be a “missed opportunity.” Unfortunately for Environmental America, going solar is already inexpensive and Nevadans are still uninterested. Environmental America is pushing their agenda, which has potential to take away consumer rights that choose to be non-solar. Make Solar Safe is against harmful energy policy that takeaway consumer rights.

Solar panel mandates for new Nevada homes would be an awful idea

Las Vegas Review-Journal

The issue of “affordable housing” is on the agenda of seemingly every Nevada political body, from the Legislature to various local boards. Here’s one easy step: Resist self-serving calls for the state to follow California and impose expensive new green mandates on builders and homebuyers.

Last week, the Environmental America Research &Policy Center, a left-wing nonprofit that promotes renewable energy, released a report implying that Nevada should require solar panels on all new home construction. “Building without solar panels at this point,” said Bret Fanshaw, the group’s Go Solar campaign director, “is a missed opportunity.”

Not surprisingly, California recently became the first state to issue such a directive, which will add about $9,500 to the cost of the average home. Proponents claim the panels will save Golden State homeowners an average of $19,000 in energy and related costs over 30 years.

“I’m sure there would be plenty of homeowners excited about this,” Mr. Fanshaw told the Review-Journal. “If you’re streamlining this process, you can reduce cost in the industry and hopefully pass it along to the consumer.”

In Mr. Fanshaw’s parlance, “streamlining the process” apparently means imposing strict mandates on the market. And to those homebuyers who might prefer lower upfront costs to theoretical savings spread over three decades? Well, Mr. Fanshaw and his colleagues at Environmental America know best.

In fact, this proposal makes no sense on myriad levels.

First, the idea of Nevada importing housing policy from a state that has become a national basket case in that area is laughable, to say the least. Second, if homeowners are so excited about solar panels, they are currently free to have them installed. The fact that Mr. Fanshaw and Environmental America prefer to advance their policy goals through the heavy hand of state compulsion rather than consumer choice is quite telling. Finally, larger-scale community solar projects, by most accounts, are much more cost-efficient than rooftop solar, which survives only through “net-metering” subsidies.

If Nevada and Las Vegas officials hope to keep home prices affordable, why on earth would they seek to mimic California and potentially price thousands of residents out of a home? If the folks at Environmental America believe there is a “missed opportunity” in Nevada, let them enter the state’s homebuilding market and convince potential buyers of the many benefits inherent in paying $10,000 more to purchase a residence with pre-installed solar panels.

In the meantime, Nevada policymakers should ignore this unfortunate collision between progresssive environmental Nanny Staters and crony capitalism.

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Experts Aren’t Taking a Shine to California’s Rooftop Solar Rule

Consumers looking for affordable housing in 2020 will want to avoid California. California’s standard of living is about to skyrocket in price from the new building energy-efficiency standards the California Energy Commission (CEC) passed earlier this year. The bill requires every new home to be built with installed solar panels. CEC’s ambitious goal to rid the state of carbon sources by solar installation is ill-advised among many energy economists. Experts argue more cost-effective strategies exist in order to cut emissions. Building more solar and wind farms to pump renewable energy into the grid as the overall power-distribution infrastructure is a more cost-effective plan. There is no way around the fact, solar installation is expensive and still in early development stages. Providing the necessary time for development in technology is desperately needed in solar industry. Forcing the burden of costly rooftop solar upon consumers while better option exist is an injustice.  Make Solar Safe supports affordable safe energy practices to protect all consumers.

Experts Aren’t Taking a Shine to California’s Rooftop Solar Rule

Energy economists say the new home requirement is inefficient and benefits wealthier people; supporters say it’s just one piece of the puzzle

By Jeremy Hsu

California has officially become the first U.S. state to require new homes to have rooftop solar panels, a major milestone in the Golden State’s hugely ambitious goal to shift all energy usage to 100 percent zero-carbon sources by 2045. But some economists doubt the rooftop rule will prove the most cost-effective way to cut greenhouse gas emissions for California—or other states seeking to address the human impact on climate change.

The requirement is part of new building energy-efficiency standards the California Energy Commission (CEC) passed earlier this year. New homes under the revised building code—which takes effect starting in 2020—will use an estimated 53 percent less energy than existing homes built under 2016 standards, and could cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 700,000 metric tons over three years, according to CEC estimates (pdf). The California Building Standards Commission officially approved the measure on December 5. “It will curtail greenhouse gases,” says Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s just a very expensive way to do it.”

Borenstein and other skeptical energy economists—although acknowledging rooftop solar on new homes will help—argue more cost-effective strategies exist and could also provide better models for other U.S. states or countries seeking to cut emissions.

A Drop (or More) in the Bucket

The estimated direct impact of California’s rooftop solar initiative is not zero, but in some ways it barely budges the needle. That figure of 700,000 metric tons of emissions over three years is far less than even 1 percent of the state’s annual emissions (which total about 440 million metric tons), said Ethan Elkind, an attorney and director of the climate program at the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at U.C. Berkeley, in an interview with California Magazine.

Looking at it another way, the estimated emissions reduction would have approximately the same impact as removing 115,000 fossil-fuel cars from California’s roads. That comparison would still amount to slightly less than half a percent of the more than 25 million cars registered in the state.

Many energy economists say the rooftop solar mandate will prove less cost efficient than building more solar and wind farms to pump grid-scale renewable energy into the overall power-distribution infrastructure. Borenstein’s U.C. Berkeley colleagues estimate solar farms in ideal locations—and with tracking technology to continuously face the sun, unlike fixed rooftop panels—could prove three times cheaper than rooftop solar. “California should be creating the knowledge and models that the rest of the world can follow,” Borenstein says. “This is a bad model that is raising the cost of reducing greenhouse gases.”

California could also do more to reduce emissions by easing vehicle reliance on fossil fuels, says Garth Heutel, an economist at Georgia State University who specializes in energy and environmental policy. Emissions from homes accounted for just 7 percent of California’s overall greenhouse gas output in 2016, whereas transportation contributed a whopping 41 percent of all emissions.

The CEC has defended the rooftop solar requirement (pdf) as part of a broader strategy to reduce emissions from the building and transportation sectors. Unlike grid-scale solar farms, rooftop panels provide onsite power to homes in way that does not require additional land or supporting infrastructure, the commission points out. It adds that rooftop solar’s distributed power approach could strengthen the grid’s resiliency against power failures, natural disasters and wildfires.

Who Pays the Costs?

Requiring rooftop solar panels may also raise upfront costs for California homeowners at a time when San Francisco and other cities already struggle with the lack of affordable housing. The CEC estimates the new standards—which also include energy-efficient lighting upgrades—will raise the cost of new home construction by about $9,500, but could save $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over a 30-year mortgage. The situation may end up favoring wealthier home buyers who can afford the upfront costs and will save money in the long run, Borenstein says. “Could there be better, more cost-effective and cheaper ways to reduce emissions—ways that avoid unintended consequences like the impact on the affordable housing crisis in California?” Heutel says. “Yes.”

But that upfront cost need not deter new home buyers, said Drew Bohan, executive director of the CEC, during a recent meeting of the Building Standards Commission. The new standards allow homeowners or builders to use power-purchase agreements or leased solar options with little or no upfront costs—all while harnessing electricity bill savings from day one. There are even exemptions for new building projects where shade or unusually low electricity prices would not make rooftop solar cost effective.

If the state enacts the right policies, supporters say rooftop solar panels could spread clean energy benefits beyond just Californians who can buy expensive new homes and drive Tesla cars. For example, California’s cap-and-trade program—which since 2013 has required companies to buy emissions permits—is mandated by law to spend some revenue on socially and environmentally disadvantaged areas. That could help subsidize low-income families so that they, too, can buy new solar-powered homes and electric vehicles, says Dan Kammen, an energy policy specialist at U.C. Berkeley.

Construction companies will likely offer rooftop solar options that both power homes and recharge homeowners’ electric cars, Kammen says. That could encourage more Californians of all backgrounds to buy electric or hybrid vehicles, thus reducing transportation emissions. “We need to make sure the benefits of solar and electric vehicles go to low-income people,” he says. “To my mind, we will not succeed in a clean-energy transition unless it’s inclusive of specifically all low-income families.”

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Court’s ruling favors IID in Riverside County ordinance repeal

A California Court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of a public utility saying that the Riverside County ordinance would cause irreparable harm to the Imperial Irrigation District. The ordinance was pushed for by a private business owner in Riverside County and would have benefited his solar development company directly. Without the preliminary injunction the solar company, Energy Alliance, would have been able to market solar panels to customers with higher energy reimbursement rates than what is required by state law. This is a win for consumers who would have been defrauded when reimbursement rates were paid at state mandated rates. 

Court’s ruling favors IID in Riverside County ordinance repeal

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles County Superior court judge Tuesday, November 6 granted a preliminary injunction preventing the county of Riverside from implementing a controversial ordinance that, if enacted, would bypass the authority of the Imperial Irrigation District to set electric rates for its customers, according to a recent press release.

In granting the injunction, Judge Mary Strobel found that the county’s ordinance conflicts with state law and, if enacted, would cause irreparable harm to the district, Frank Oswalt, IID’s general counsel, reported.

Although no final rulings were made, Oswalt said in the press release the court determined there was a likely probability that IID would prevail if the matter were fully contested. Further, should the ordinance be enacted, the IID board and staff would be irreparably harmed by the prescribed criminal penalties in the ordinance, and the district harmed by the millions in unrecoverable costs to implement it.

In June, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved Ordinance No. 943, that would have required IID to scrap its publicly vetted and board-adopted solar tariff, net energy billing and create a new solar tariff that closely resembles that of a privately owned utility, Southern California Edison. All this was set in motion at the request of a private business owner whose business is located in Riverside County and stands to directly benefit financially from the impacts of this ordinance.

“The notion that Riverside County would usurp IID’s ratemaking authority and adopt an ordinance that violates state law is inherently unreasonable and unprecedented,” said James Hanks, IID board president, in the release. “Today’s action by the court is a win for the district and its ratepayers.”

In making her ruling, Judge Strobel also noted several potential areas in which the county’s ordinance may conflict with the Public Utilities Act.

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IID alleges Riverside County violated Brown Act in passing ordinance

Additional details explaining the corrupt passage of Riverside County’s solar reimbursement came out during an Imperial Irrigation District meeting. According to lawyers for the district, Riverside County officials violated open meetings laws in determining who was going to vote for the contentious ordinance. The ordinance was already under scrutiny after details emerged that the ordinance was pushed by a private solar developer, Energy Alliance, including a promise for the developer to pay for court costs, effectively bribing the county into passing the change. If the change were to become law it would have a negative impact on Riverside County residents. Energy Alliance would be able to market solar panels to customers promising higher energy reimbursement rates than the utility is required to pay by state law.

IID alleges Riverside County violated Brown Act in passing ordinance

By: Imperial Valley Press

LA QUINTA — The Imperial Irrigation District is alleging Riverside County was in violation of California’s open meetings law, the Brown Act, when Riverside officials “lined up votes” outside of the public’s purview on an ordinance the district is now suing over.

What’s more, due to the alleged Brown Act violations, the district sent a letter from one of its attorneys demanding that the ordinance in question be rescinded or that Riverside County face additional legal challenges from the district.

The allegations were made public Tuesday at the district’s monthly meeting in La Quinta during a presentation by attorneys for Aguirre and Severson LLP, an outside law firm hired by the district to make a California public records request on its behalf.

The district is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Riverside County over the approval of Ordinance 943, a law passed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors in June compelling the IID to provide additional incentives to electrical customers who have installed solar panels on their properties.

IID officials are opposed to the ordinance, saying that at stake is the district’s authority to set its own rates and that the district is already in compliance with California state law.

“IID’s business model allows the district to offer its customers some of the lowest residential electric rates in California — rates that are as much as 50 percent lower than that of neighboring investor-owned utilities. The ordinance, should it be implemented, jeopardizes these rates and sets a bad public policy that has the potential to impact other public power providers across the state,” IID communications specialist Robert Schettler said in a statement.

The ordinance passed by Riverside County — which is not in effect, but in a court-ordered stay while the suit makes its way through legal proceedings — establishes new regulations and procedures for irrigation districts like IID that are operating net-energy metering programs. Net-energy metering is a program designed to benefit customers who generate their own electricity, usually via rooftop solar panels.

The Brown Act violation allegations are believed to be contained in a series of correspondence Aguirre and Severson requested between Riverside County officials and staff and principals in Renova Energy, a private solar installation company based in Palm Desert that appears to have pushed for the ordinance according to a series of emails.

“Because of the rather troubling aspects of the way this thing was passed, we asked outside counsel to make a public records request,” IID General Counsel Frank Oswalt said.

Oswalt said Riverside County responded to the records request Oct. 2 and within a series of email correspondence attorneys believed they found two emails, or examples, in which the Brown Act was violated.

The Brown Act states, Oswalt said, that a legislative body such as the Riverside County Board of Supervisors “shall not outside a meeting, use a series of communications to discuss, deliberate or take action” on a subject within its jurisdiction.

In a letter to the Riverside County board from IID Deputy County Counsel Joanna Smith Hoff:

“Email correspondence produced by [Riverside] County reveal extensive, non-public solicitation and collection of votes by Supervisor V. Manuel Perez at the insistence of [Renova Energy owner Vincent] Battaglia. For example, by email dated May 5, 2018, Supervisor Perez urged Thomas S. Freeman, a senior Perez staff member:

‘Tom, let’s count the votes. Use this information and the fact that Renova will indemnify. If votes still not there, we will need Vince (Battagalia) to knock on those doors to get us there.’”

Smith Hoff’s letter goes on to cite a second email where Perez lobbies Riverside County Deputy Chief Executive Officer Brian Nestande on May 1:

“Hey Brian, what are we waiting on now? Let’s move this forward. Let’s count the votes. V. Manuel Perez”

Smith Hoff writes: “It is clear from the above emails that Supervisor Perez worked through intermediaries to develop concurrence on Ordinance 943 out of public view and prior to any public consideration of the matter by the board.”

Further, IID alleges in Smith Hoff’s letter that the email correspondence also shows “a secretly negotiated indemnity agreement between Mr. Battaglia and his companies (Renova and ERA) on the one hand, and the county of Riverside on the other, that preceded any public board consideration or action in connection with the adoption of Ordinance 943.”

“We see this letter,” Smith Hoff writes, “as providing you [Riverside] an opportunity to rectify an illegal action avoiding the need for further litigation.” From the date of the letter, Oct. 12, the IID has given Riverside County 30 days to respond or be subject to legal action.

Riverside County officials deny any wrongdoing.

“The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has and will continue to adhere to the requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act. The allegations by the Imperial Irrigation District have no merit. Board members did not engage in any serial meetings in advance of the ordinance’s introduction and adoption. The recent disclosure of emails in response to IID’s public records request does not change the fact that there were no serial meetings,” Riverside County spokesman Ray Smith wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.

Aguirre and Severson partner Maria Severson took the IID Board of Directors and those assembled at Tuesday’s meeting through a history of the “behind-the-scenes” development of the ordinance by way of a chain of emails outlining negotiations between Battaglia, Perez and others. There was a specific call to arms against the IID from Battaglia, according to the emails. Battaglia makes references to going to “war” with IID and in another instance calling the IID Board of Directors “rogue, corrupt and environmentally tone-deaf” through the development of the ordinance and the alleged negotiation of the indemnity agreement.

IID is “wasting rate payer money challenging a law they know they have no right to challenge,” Battaglia said Wednesday. “We addressed this Brown Act business. They are throwing anything at the wall to try to make it stick.”

Battaglia said the IID is trying to “paint it as if this greedy solar guy is trying to bring net-metering back. … It’s a just a game they are playing now trying to smear me. … It’s a cartel down there. I understand that mentality; I’m just not going to put up with that.”

He added that any dealings he had with Riverside County officials was above board and legal.

No action was taken on the Brown Act issue by the IID board, as the issue was placed on the meeting agenda as an information-only item. None of the board members nor IID General Manager Kevin Kelley commented on the issue; Oswalt advised, “In fact, it would probably be inappropriate for the board to comment on it.”

Meanwhile, IID filed suit against Riverside over the ordinance back on July 13 in Riverside County Superior Court. The ordinance in question has not gone into effect, as the IID won a stay pending further consideration of the merits of the case. The parties are next due in court Nov. 6 in Los Angeles, seen as a neutral site by the court.

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Brooklyn ‘Top Chef’ Admits He Poisoned Neighbor’s Tree

Adam Harvey pleads guilty to poisoning his neighbors’ tree for blocking his solar panels. Fortunately for the neighborhood, the tree did not die. Harvey must serve 20 days community service and pay a fee of $3,694 in restitution for his herbicide attack on the tree.

 Brooklyn ‘Top Chef’ Admits He Poisoned Neighbor’s Tree

Bar Salumi co-owner Adam Harvey pleaded guilty in Brooklyn Criminal Court to trying to kill a neighbor’s silver maple tree, records show.

by Cathleen Culliton

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK — The celebrity chef pleaded guilty to poisoning his neighbor’s tree and must now serve 20 days of community service, court records and reports show.

Former “Top Chef” Adam Harvey admitted in Brooklyn Criminal Court Monday that he snuck into his Windsor Terrace neighbor’s backyard, drilled holes into her tree and filled those holes with herbicide in April, court records show.

The celebrity chef, who co-owns Bar Salumi in Park Slope, will pay $3,694 in restitution for hurting the silver maple tree, which his attorney, Bruce Maffeo, told the New York Post was not killed by Harvey’s herbicide endeavors.

Harvey first landed in trouble when his neighbor spotted a masked Harvey drilling holes into the tree he had previously complained was blocking light to the rooftop solar panels on his Seeley Street home, according to a criminal complaint.

Prosecutors charged Harvey with criminal mischief and criminal trespass during his arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court on May 15.

Harvey turned down a plea deal last month that called for 35 days community service, the Post reported.

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