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Acton Takes Action | April 13, 2024 – Today, Ruthie Brock, Chair of the Acton Takes Action Community Task Force (ATA), sent out an activity report email to bring everyone up-to-date as to what is happening in our fight to prevent lithium-ion Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) facilities from being developed and built in Acton. If you didn't receive the email, read on for the full report covering the following topics and events:

  • Update on the SORT-filed Legal Complaint Against LA County and Hecate
  • Recap on the Notice of Exemption (NOE) filed with the LA County Board of Supervisors
  • FACT: The Hecate Humidor BESS is a Transmission Facility
  • The LA County BOS Rejected the NOE Appeal on December 19, 2023, but THAT Isn't Going to Stop Us!
  • The Lawsuit Will Move Forward Regardless of the County's Inaction
  • We Still Need to Raise Money for Our WAR CHEST Legal Fund!

Hello, Everyone!

Here is an update on our BESS opposition efforts for April...

Update on the SORT-filed Legal Complaint Against LA County and Hecate

It has been exactly 7 months since we filed our legal complaint against LA County and Hecate for the ministerial approval of the 400 MegaWatt Humidor Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) proposed in east Acton. You may be thinking, why has this taken so long? Let me explain.

I am going to back-track for just a moment and remind everyone of the appeal we filed to the Notice of Exemption (NOE) to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which was addressed on December 19, 2023, at the LA County Board of Supervisors (BOS) hearing. This is so everyone understands our steps taken thus far and why.

Recap on the Notice of Exemption (NOE) filed with the LA County Board of Supervisors

Because the Humidor had been approved through a “ministerial review” which is a very simple review applied to projects thought to be of small significance (that’s humorous isn’t it?) — it was not eligible for us to appeal under the LA County Code. Also, because it was approved by ministerial review it WAS eligible to be declared exempt from CEQA, hence the NOE to CEQA was issued by County. Now, a NOE can be appealed, so that’s what we did. Save Our Rural Town (SORT) the filer of our legal complaint on our behalf, filed this appeal just before the small window of opportunity closed.

The appeal of the NOE was filed because SORT pointed out that the transmission line, (which is part of the Humidor project as a whole), was not eligible under County Code for a ministerial review, so therefore this project should not be allowed to claim an exemption to CEQA. According to County Code, ALL transmission projects are required to be considered under a discretionary review process which includes a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), public comment and sometimes an Environmental Impact Review (EIR). As a matter of fact, the Humidor BESS itself is a transmission project and therefore SORT felt it should have definitely gone through a discretionary review.

The Director of Regional Planning had made an erroneous interpretation (since BESS are not specifically listed in the Zoning Code), and she issued a “similarity determination,” claiming that a BESS was similar to a “electric distribution facility,” which is an allowable use on parcels in the M-1 zoning on which Humidor would be located, and also eligible for a simple ministerial review.

FACT: The Hecate Humidor BESS IS a Transmission Facility

Because people who specialize in planning are not electrical or environmental engineers — nor are they transmission experts — they do not understand that the voltage at which the Humidor BESS operates and it’s location in the grid system determine that it is an electric TRANSMISSION facility, and therefore was never eligible to be approved by a simple ministerial review and never eligible for exemption to CEQA.

FACT: The Humidor will receive its energy via a 230kV AC (alternating current) transmission line and will convert and store its energy at 34kV DC (direct current). When the grid needs the power, the BESS converts the electricity back to the higher AC voltage and sends it back over the 230kV transmission line to the Vincent Substation. (NOTE: according to CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), any voltage that is 200 kV or higher is considered TRANSMISSION level voltage, not DISTRIBUTION level.)

Is your head spinning yet? I know mine was! But it’s beginning to all make sense as Jacki Ayer, Director of SORT, has patiently tried to explain it all to me!

For those of you who were not already aware, SORT Director Jack Ayer, is a certified environmental engineer with over 40 years of environmental engineering experience with a particular expertise in power line and electrical utility infrastructure development, land use and environmental impact assessments. Jacki has participated as an expert witness in every large transmission project in the state of California over the past 20 years.

So, when Jacki says that the Hecate Humidor is a transmission BESS — IT'S A FREAKING TRANSMISSION BESS.


Now that we have that little fun fact established, let’s move on, shall we?

The LA County BOS Rejected the NOE Appeal on December 19, 2023, but THAT Isn't Going to Stop Us!

Our appeal of the NOE was rejected on Dec 19th by our Board of Supervisors, but we assumed it would be. The Supervisors needed to act in a manner that supported the County’s prior approval of the Humidor, especially since we had filed a lawsuit challenging their decision. While I’m disappointed that our own supervisor, Kathryn Barger didn’t vote with us, I guess I do understand. If she had voted with us, the Board vote still would have ended in a 4-1 decision with the same outcome, but then we could have used her vote of support in our arguments against the Humidor approval in court. Oh, and trust me, we would have. So, she was in a difficult spot — and Acton and Agua Dulce put her there. But, did she think we were going to sit back and accept this BESS project and all of the safety risks it represents? That’s NOT how Acton and Agua Dulce roll!

The December 19th appeal decision presented the need for our legal complaint to be amended to reflect that, and so it was in early January. A December 21st hearing to set a trial date was also rescheduled because of the appeal decision and need for the amended complaint, so that is now scheduled for May 23rd. Can’t wait!

As this has progressed, we as the plaintiff had requested that LA County prepare the Administrative Record since they are in possession of all the documents and communications between parties that will go into that Record. County requested as extension on the deadline to produce this Record because the Franchise Agreement which is to be executed between County and Hecate for the transmission line has not yet been brought before the Board of Supervisors. When County was pressed as to when this would be happening, they had no answer for us. County was not willing to go through the expense and effort to produce the Administrative Record without that final Franchise Agreement piece of the puzzle being in place.

The Lawsuit Will Move Forward Regardless of the County's Inaction

With this considered, our attorney has decided this lawsuit will move forward without the Franchise Agreement because it is not necessary for us to prove our case. This also means that WE will be preparing the Administrative Record ourselves and we have already made a formal request for all documents. It will require some time and energy for us to categorize all documents and emails in preparation for our hearing, but we can do it!

Once we have the hearing on May 23rd, we will know our actual trial date and I will try to announce it by email and through social media. We are anticipating it could be in the early Fall.

Thank you for your interest and your support of our efforts to derail this first dangerous BESS project from developing in Acton! I know I threw a lot of information at you in this update, but I’m hoping that if even a small portion of it sunk in, then you are more informed now than you were before.

And that’s my job!

Until next time... DON’T BESS WITH ACTON!


ATA Continues to Collect WAR CHEST DONATIONS to Fund Legal Fees. We Need Everyone's Help!

Thank you all for being in the trenches with ATA and SORT in the battle to keep Humidor and other BESS out of our community! However, we still need to add money to our War Chest legal fund!

If you haven’t donated, please help our community by doing your part! And, if you donated earlier and have not reissued a replacement check for the prior one that was rejected by Hanson Bridgett LLP, please... please... PLEASE make out a new check made payable to SAVE OUR RURAL TOWN and mail it in as soon as possible to the address below.

Make the new check payable to SAVE OUR RURAL TOWN (please do NOT make payable to Acton Takes Action). Save Our Rural Town (SORT) is the filer of our lawsuit and will collect the WAR CHEST donations and then make direct payment to the law firm of Hanson Bridgett LLP on our behalf.

Please MAIL donation checks with your Donation Check Form* to:
Acton Takes Action
3807 Sierra Hwy Suite 6-4397
Acton CA 93510

(Again, please do NOT make payable to Acton Takes Action)

Please CLICK HERE to download and print the WAR CHEST CHECK DONATION FORM with complete instructions.

*NOTE: If you are ONLY reissuing your donation check, you do NOT need to download, print, nor fill out a new donation form. Ruthie Brock will update your original form and then send you an email confirmation once she receive your new check.

Thank you everyone!

Ruthie Brock
Chair, Acton Takes Action

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