Southern California environment news and trends

Manzanar Committee protests LADWP's latest solar plans in the Owens Valley

David McNew/Getty Images

Old twisted barded wire and other artifacts are still scattered around the Manzanar War Relocation Center south of Independence, California.

Supporters of Manzanar Historic Site -- home to a former Japanese-American internment camp --  are objecting to a proposal by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to put solar panels nearby, along the Owens River. They say the panels would obstruct the view from the camp.

Earlier this month, the DWP told Inyo County that it was resurrecting a project called the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch.

The agency wants to install enough solar panels to generate around 200 megawatts of energy on land near Manzanar.  

Manzanar commemorates the experiences of Japanese-Americans placed in an internment camp there during World War II. It's managed by the National Park Service. The Manzanar Committee, an activist group that has long skirmished with the DWP, opposes the solar plan. 

In a letter, the Committee argues that one million solar panels would obstruct the view from the camp – and that construction would harm an old solid waste dump site that may contain historic artifacts. 

The proposed project would be built on land owned by the City of L.A. Inyo County is considering allowing it. County supervisors there voted two weeks ago to seek compensation from the DWP for potential costs to the county. 

Two years ago, DWP had floated the idea of a similar solar field nearby – but didn't follow through on the plan.

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