Impact on Wildlife or California
In granting a right-of-way, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, with approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will shield Alta Windpower Development from prosecution if a condor is fatally injured at its 2,300-acre site near the high-desert town of Mojave during the projected 30-year lifetime of the project.
The mystery behind a fallen turbine blade at the Ocotillo Wind power plant east of San Diego has led the manufacturer to curtail operations at select wind farms around the world. ...The fallen blade ignited new safety concerns among critics of the plant, who posted photos and videos to the internet of the crumpled white tube.
No injuries were reported, according to the El Centro newspaper. But worldwide use of that model of turbine has been suspended while the mishap is investigated by its manufacturer, Siemens. ...In April, a blade broke from a similar Siemens turbine at an Iowa wind energy facility, the Imperial Valley Press reported.
A Siemens spokeswoman explained that "when a turbine is curtailed, it means the load on the blade is significantly reduced compared to normal operation." The company said there were about 700 such turbines deployed around the world, with most - around 600 - in the United States, and all those turbines were being examined.
A massive blade from one of the 112 wind turbines recently installed was found near a tower base Thursday, after plummeting onto the ground overnight, triggering safety concerns among officials and some residents. ...the project is now shut down.
Siemens does not yet know the root cause of this incident and is working to determine if and how this is related to a recent similar incident in Iowa. Today, Siemens is taking the step of curtailing all turbines with the B53 blade type globally. These turbines will remain curtailed until it can be determined they are not at risk of a similar malfunction.
The Iowa incident took place in April at MidAmerican Holdings' 200-megawatt Eclipse wind farm.
NAW has learned that a blade belonging to a Siemens SWT-2.3-108 wind turbine came crashing to the ground at the 265 MW Ocotillo Wind Farm in the early morning hours of May 16. No one was injured.
A spokesperson from Pattern Energy, which owns and operates Ocotillo, corroborated the incident.
The 315-megawatt Ocotillo Express Wind project in Imperial County is shut down today after a 10-ton blade came loose from one of the project's 112 wind turbines, landing about 100 yards away on a public road.
On Wednesday, attorney Richard Adam, representing the Bedfords, argued that time extension violated the plain language of both the original conditional use permit for the project and the Land Use Development Code.
This wholly avoidable public health and safety hazard occurred just one day after San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the revised Wind Energy Ordinance & Boulevard Community Plan to remove community protections to allow 500 foot tall industrial wind turbines on private land in previously protected areas near homes, recreation areas, and sensitive wildlife.
An estimated 850,000 to 1.7 million bats have died from collisions with wind turbines in the United States and Canada since 2000, said Mylea Bayless, director of conservation programs for Austin, Texas-based Bats Conservation international.
"What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK," said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, who helped prosecute the PacifiCorp power line case.
By not enforcing the law, the administration provides little incentive for companies to build wind farms where there are fewer birds.
Nearly all the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws, which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies, over the past five years.
"What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK," said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, Wyo.
The problem, he said, is that those big investment firms tend to focus on mature companies that are generating significant revenue, and there are few of those in cleantech. Meanwhile, more government investment seems increasingly far off as congressional Republicans demand answers about the failure of Fisker Automotive.
After more than three hours of heated testimony on Tuesday, San Diego Supervisors opted to delay a decision on a controversial wind ordinance and changes to plans for two backcountry communities until May 15. The postponement came after a lawyer representing rural residents sent a last-minute letter claiming that approval of the project would be illegal.
In a decision swiftly condemned by conservationists and wildlife advocates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said operators of Terra-Gen Power's wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains will not be prosecuted if their turbines accidentally kill a condor during the expected 30-year life span of the project.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grants exceptions to a wind farm and a building project in harassing or killing the endangered birds.
In a letter to the commission, Ginger Ritter, AZGF project evaluation program specialist, asked the commissioners to postpone the decision until more data was available on the locations, nesting sites and activities of the golden eagles and long-nosed bats in the vicinity.
Many city representatives say that they are unlikely to give any go-ahead that would effectively enroll customers, who would have the option to opt out, without seeing final rates and having a clearer idea of where the program will get its electricity and how green it will be. ...Benefits, including local energy projects that could create jobs, are "intriguing," Kyes said. "But there really isn't any information yet that shows that's more than talk."
Boulevard Planning Group chair Donna Tisdale did not mince words.
"It's immoral, unethical and in my opinion, unlawful," she said.
Tisdale and the others were in front of the County Administration Building on Monday calling attention to a vote that the county supervisors will cast on Wednesday.
The slain young eagle was likely one of the six white-tailed eagles in a row, "said Pedersen, who follows bird migration in Skagen daily.