Lorrie Steely formed a community action group, Mojave Communities Conservation Collaborative (MC3), the group behind the campaign “2 Save Our Skyline.” Their actions ultimately brought down Goliath Southern California Edison (SCE), in a battle against a proposed power plant in Apple Valley (Coolwater-Lugo) and the Northpeak Wind project, proposed for the Milpas Highlands, a rural area east of Apple Valley.
We asked Lorrie a few questions
Q/A: Where are you from? Arcadia. I grew up on a 500 acre dairy farm in Valley Home, CA. It’s in the central part of California near Sonora and Yosemite. I used to horseback ride for half-days at a time. The population was about 1,500, real small and hometown feel.
Q/A: When did you move to Apple Valley/Why? I moved to Apple Valley about 1993 after living in Pasadena, Tujunga and Hesperia. I came up here to visit a friend who lived here. I met a few people and found the desert fascinating, with its seemingly empty, wide open landscapes and a true adventure.
Q/A: What was the challenge? One day in August 2013 I was driving home up Milpas Road and noticed a piece of paper on a telephone pole. I stopped to look, thinking it was a lost pet notice or something. It turned out to be a Public Notice from SCE about their submission to the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) to develop a new project – the Coolwater-Lugo Power Transmission Project right in the immediate area.
Q/A: Did you know what you were getting into? I visited the cumbersome website listed on the notice, got phone numbers and made phone calls. That’s how I found out about the scope of the proposed project. SCE representatives started out by saying that it would encompass an “initial” 85 acres, but further digging revealed it would cover 165 acres of land, claiming it was for the “Future Growth of Apple Valley.” It was absurd and misleading. I researched everything I could find about this and future energy projects. I found that these massive projects were being shoved into our communities by federal and state representatives using a process that was willing to compromise the land and citizens without looking at any alternatives.
This one proposed project included 71 industrial 500-feet high wind turbines in Phase I alone, of a 14-phase plan for power and energy that would not even be used in our own community.
Q/A: What did that moment feel like? The kick was, I realized that this was just the beginning. My “A-Ha” moment came when I attended a county SPARC meeting in Barstow in February of 2014 and realized the project’s magnitude. I sat horrified as I listened to the consultants for the county outline the future of industrial solar and solar thermal plans and projects. That day after the meeting out on the steps of that building I met Neville Slade and Erin D’orio. We came together in our shear horror and decided right then and there to get our community together and formed the MC3 group.
Q/A: What’s the objective of MC3? To inform and engage the community. iMost people weren’t even aware of these power and energy development issues.
Q/A: What happened next? Erin flew off to Washington, DC to talk to a federal representative. We had a meeting for the community of Milpas Highlands, and 95 people came, wanting to be informed. We started an education campaign, Save or Skyline (SOS). We soon attracted the attention and support of the county supervisor’s office and the town mayor. .
Q/A: What’s the process for getting heard? Everything you say and every concern you voice shows up and is explained away in the opponents’ glossy ads and mail pieces. It was difficult.
Q/A: When did you hear it would not be pursued? May of 2015. NRG retired the Coolwater-Lugo Generation Plant, so the CPUC denied Southern California Edison’s re-submission for the Coolwater-Lugo Transmission Project.
Q/A: What’s your advice? Believe you have the power to make a difference.
Contact Lorrie L. Steely, Founder MC3 at (760) 985-8744 email@example.com
Q/A: What’s love got to do with it? Well, I think it’s a matter of loving yourself. YES, having the confidence to make a difference. Start to appreciate yourself and the things that matter in your life and see the value in all these things before it’s gone.
Q/A: When the world says one thing, what makes you be aware of something else entirely? For me, it was God to us – then through us. I listened.
Q/A: What did this victory mean to you? Never to accept a pre-determined defeat.
Q/A: What’s next? There’s a lot on the horizon. We want to educate our communities now on the importance of engaging in the county SPARC conversation and process to help develop the county plan at the community level, to foster health socially, environmentally and economically. What is coming up are the state hearings with the BLM, CEC and Department of Fish & Wildlife.
It’s MC3’s goal to unite all of the county representatives and respective areas of San Bernardino County and find strength in our diversity as to what we all have to offer in one larger picture so that these types of things can’t happen again to individual and singled out communities. For example, big business and industrial power won’t just see the desert as a dumping site for destructive energy projects. We have the opportunity to write our own future in energy. We must all work together or lose a lot.
The Proxy Question: Where do you most want to travel, but have never been? Only one? Ok, Machupicchu, Peru. I want to see all the amazing building technology first-hand and then wonder what really happen to all of these people.
Lorrie became one of my modern-day heroes. As you can see by the article this real-life drama played out over a two year span. To her, Neville and Erin and the whole team of volunteers of the MC3 who walk in victory – I say a big thank you! It’s because of people like you that the future remains bright.
To learn more go to www.mojavec3.org.
Contact Lorrie L. Steely, Founder Mojave Communities Conservation Collaborative 760-985-8744 firstname.lastname@example.org