Shelter Cove RID Considers Energy Self-Sufficiency

The Shelter Cove Resort Improvement District (RID) board heard a presentation on solar energy, discussed airport upgrades, and resolved to adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration on a proposed water recycling expansion project at their May 19 meeting.

The board and about 25 members of the Shelter Cove community viewed a PowerPoint presentation given by Dr. Peter Lehman, a founding director of Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC), that included a history of SERC, its experience in the renewable energy field, and SERC’s eagerness to collaborate with RID to develop solar arrays for a micro-grid for the district.

Lehman gave an overview of SERC’s micro-grid project for the Blue Lake Rancheria and explained that the experience with that project laid the groundwork for SERC to undertake the extensive project proposed by RID.

Members of the public asked questions, including whether wind or biomass power generation would be feasible in Shelter Cove. Lehman responded that wind power generation required very high winds. He recommended that the district begin with solar energy.

“If we could find the funding to do this, and I’m not quite sure how to do that, one of the things we’re trying to do is get our arms around what the project would be so you can apply for funding. That’s the next step,” Lehman said. “If you could do that, I mean, you could produce locally generated power, sell it to your residents at a reasonable price and probably comparative to the price that they pay now, and you’re making money on solar energy.”

In response to questions RID general manager Philip Young said that the solar arrays for the micro-grid project could be spread throughout the area on district-owned property. Lehman remarked that it was best economically and in the engineering to develop areas where there could be a significant number of modules in one place.

“I think you’re in a great spot because you’re a resort improvement district and you can sell power,” Lehman concluded. “You’ll be famous.”

Later in the meeting the board approved an unbudgeted expense of $1,500 that included SERC staff reimbursement, and travel and time for the presentation.

Lieutenant Dennis Young of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department addressed the meeting to follow up on his report to the board last month. Lt. Young reported that Lt. Brian Quenell of the Humboldt County Drug Task Force said he would try to attend the RID board meeting next month to talk about cannabis grows in Shelter Cove.

Other Business

During the general manager’s report, a member of the public asked about RID’s proposed Humboldt Creek dam project. Philip Young explained the district was working with the California State Water Resources Control Board to develop a reservoir in Shelter Cove for drought resiliency. He noted that it would be between Humboldt Loop Road and Spring Road, and that the reservoir would dam about half of the 1.1 mile-long creek.

“The state has a policy for Northern California streams that does not allow for the blockage or for on-stream reservoirs of Class 1 streams. Class 1 streams are streams which have fish in them and that stream does have fish in,” Young said as an explanation of why he was waiting to hear back from the Water Board.

The commenter remarked that damming streams tended to cause them to silt up.

“Oh, certainly, especially with our creeks,” Young responded. “Telegraph Creek has annual wasting on the banks. We don’t see it as much with Humboldt Creek, though.”

Board member David Sommer reported on the condition of RID’s airport. He said there was deterioration in many areas, but he noted the runway was in excellent condition.

“I think the airport really is important to the community for several reasons. I think we need to start thinking of a way to rehabilitate it, keep it maintained,” Sommer commented.

This led to an extended discussion among board members and members of the public about the airport’s relationship to the district. Young remarked that the airport did not directly generate funds and it was uncertain whether it was really a prime asset in emergencies. Board member Nanette Corley observed that a tsunami or earthquake could make the airport unusable, and helicopters, the aircraft that would probably respond to Shelter Cove in an emergency, could land in the area’s cul-de-sacs.

There was disagreement about how much the airport contributed to tourism and business and how important it was to the majority of Shelter Cove residents. Young remarked that a small minority of the community benefitted from the airport, but Sommer countered he had emails from about a dozen people who said they were emphatically for the airport.

“As the general manager I look at it from a revenue generator and return on investment,” Young said. “That airport generates zero revenue, but we get $10,000 in grant money for the maintenance of the airport — $10,000 covers the landscaping and some of the weed abatement around the airport.”

Young pointed out that without several security implementation efforts including a chain link fence and airport lighting, the district airport was not eligible for grant funding other than to pave the runway.

Young said that the district was not considering getting rid of the airport but was looking at ways to fund it, and how extensive and expensive infrastructure upgrades should be.

The board voted to adopt a resolution determining that a proposed water recycling project would not have a significant adverse effect on the environment and authorizing the general manager to file a Mitigated Negative Declaration in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Young reported that the district had considered all comments on the initial study for the project, which had a 20-day comment period that had begun on April 14, and was prepared to file a Notice of Determination for the project in accordance with CEQA.

The board looked over the third quarter budget and draft budget for fiscal year 2016-2017. They discussed the importance of reviewing the policy on district reserves.

At the close of the meeting Young said that in his opinion as general manager, which did not reflect the opinion of any board members or district staff, the incumbent supervisor did not consider Shelter Cove worthy of attention. Young said he had not received responses from the supervisor to his last two or three emails about Measure Z funding.

“I am not endorsing the other candidate, but I highly recommend that in this upcoming election, you do not vote for the incumbent,” Young concluded.

It was reported out of closed session that the board gave the general manager instructions regarding the acquisition of two properties.