Up to 40 million acres of public lands are targeted for industrialization with renewable energy development. Among the first of these large-scale projects is Ocotillo Wind, a 12,500 acre wind project now under construction ...has left horrified residents convinced this is anything but green.
"The wind industry's central tenet now is that bigger is better," said John O. Dabiri, an aeronautics professor who runs Caltech's Center for Bioinspired Engineering. "It certainly goes against conventional wisdom, but we're taking the opposite perspective."
North state opposition to a proposed high-voltage power line stretching from Lassen County to the San Francisco Bay area is still fully charged.
The day after the biggest municipal utility among those planning the 600-mile Transmission Agency of Northern California (TANC) line pulled out of the project, those opposing it said their fight is long from over. ..."We deserve our meeting," Caldwell said. "TANC should not cancel our meeting because one entity pulled out."
The power generated by the mega-plants will be among the most expensive renewable energy in the country. ...Stanford University economist Frank Wolak said the state's renewable energy strategy could boost electricity rates 10% to 20%, depending on a number of factors. Potentially, consumers' bills could go up by 50%.
"It is easily in the billions of dollars," he said.
A $1.7 billion Southern California Edison renewable energy project under construction in three counties met with a legal challenge today from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
The project is intended to create 250 miles of new and upgraded electrical transmission facilities and substations. The project will transmit electrical power from wind farms in Tehachapi.
Just days after a group of Tehachapi residents celebrated the collapse of a large windmill project, another group contacted 17 News about another wind project in the works.
They say the windmills will destroy the natural beauty of their neighborhood.
The problem is that the City of Tehachapi, like many businesses, is on a Southern California Edison "power savings plan," which involves reduced costs when usage is lowered during peak hours, generally, 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Penalty fees can be levied against the city if usage during those hours spikes. ...the turbines draw significant amounts of electricity when being started. This can result in thousands of dollars in added energy costs.
The Tehama County Planning Commission Thursday approved a use permit for a series of 330-foot meteorological test towers outside Mineral.
With use permits issued for as many as five towers to test the feasibility of installing wind turbines, Padoma Windpower has been granted the authority to build and keep the towers on Sierra Pacific land for as many as 36 months.
In the wake of the first wind turbine project going online last year, energy developers have proposed five more meteorological test stations in Shasta County to determine if the area can support more wind turbines.
Iberdrola, developer of Tule Wind, successfully fought to remove significant protections in Boulevard's Community Plan during the County's General Plan Update--changes that made it easier to build massive energy projects. Supervisors approved those changes in August 2011, tossing out years of planning by Boulevard residents. Those changes appall the vast majority of those who live in this quiet rural community.
Billions of dollars of investment during the past decade have created a wind-power corridor that stretches more than 170 miles along the Columbia in Eastern Washington and Oregon, vaulting the Northwest to the leading edge of national efforts to develop this renewable energy source.
But the fickle, roller-coaster nature of generating electricity from the wind is also placing large new strains on efforts to manage the regional power grid.
Building and maintaining solar and wind power projects can be hazardous, and industry watchdogs worry that the push for more green energy places more workers and bystanders in harm's way.
[T]he Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area is also a symbol of the wind industry's biggest stain - the killings of thousands of birds, including majestic golden eagles, by turbines. The result has been a wrenching civil war among those who are otherwise united in the struggle to save the planet and its creatures.
It's been nearly a year since a controversial legal settlement was forged among wildlife groups, wind companies and Alameda County regulators. That agreement, opposed by some parties to the dispute, promised to reduce deaths of golden eagles and three other raptor species by 50 percent in three years and called for the shutdown or relocation of the 300 or so most lethal of the approximately 5,000 windmills at Altamont.
But five scientists appointed by the county say the settlement and accompanying efforts to reduce bird deaths are not on track to meet the 50 percent goal ..."We are deeply distressed about the continuing bird deaths and about the companies not being on track for the 50 percent reduction," said Elizabeth Murdock, executive director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, a chief plaintiff in the lawsuit that has reshaped the battle over the birds.
Once considered wasteland, this expanse of sunshine and wind is now a prized battleground between unlikely opponents. For generations, conservationists like Sall's family have guarded the landscape, but 21st Century demands for renewable energy are threatening to crash into the pristine desert, now deemed a gold mine for solar, wind and geothermal farms.
Unlike offshore drilling and other oil and gas ventures in which developers and environmentalists are obvious adversaries, renewable energy is increasingly pitting two kinds of green advocates against each other as the nation seeks alternative sources in the face of record oil prices and global warming, both sides say.
When San Diego Gas & Electric unveiled the Sunrise Powerlink two years ago, the company gave three essential reasons for building the 150-mile long power line: Renewable energy, Savings, Reliability. The power line's $447 million annual savings was cut to $142 million a year after erroneous calculations were uncovered. A solar energy project whose fate was once tied to the line has failed to demonstrate that it works on a commercial scale. SDG&E has equivocated about how much renewable energy can be found in Imperial County, where the line will begin. The company has waffled about whether the line is necessary to spark renewable energy development in Imperial County.
And the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, a state watchdog, has said SDG&E won't need the power line to keep the lights on until at least 2014.
The decision, which was made unanimously by the five-member board, could result in the end of one proposed project and a massive redesign of another as county officials said the ruling shows the supervisors are concerned about dangers the tall structures pose.
"We definitely had an issue with 198-foot-tall 'met' towers," said Edel Vizcarra.
A battle between backers of wind projects in the mountains east of San Diego and those who say big windmills don't belong in rural communities because they damage the environment is being taken up by state and federal agencies working on a tight deadline.
Opponents and supporters of three big projects clashed this week at standing-room-only meetings in small towns just north of the U.S.-Mexico border and about 70 miles east of San Diego.
ALTAMONT PASS: Alameda County hires team of consultants rather than have one do it alone
After years of lawsuits, a settlement was finally reached early this year to try to reduce bird kills at the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in Alameda County. But critics charge that the new agreement makes an already bad situation even worse...........The avian mortality problem at Altamont illustrates the complex nature of energy production-even "good" sources such as wind have impacts. Smallwood is "aghast that our natural resource agencies-federal and state-allow the companies to do this when as an individual I can get a shotgun and shoot a golden eagle, but I'd go to jail."
Operators of the Altamont Wind Farm are considering construction of a similar series of wind turbines on the hills of Tomales.
Yet a spokesman for NextEra Energy Resources - a subsidiary of Florida Power & Light Co. - said the project remained in its earliest stages.