Dave Bittner, Golden Eagle expert with Wildlife Research Institute, pled guilty to federal charges of unlawful taking of Golden Eagles --working without valid permit and failure to file reports. Bittner conducted studies for Iberdrola's Tule Wind project approved by BLM and San Diego County for public and private land in the McCain Valley National Cooperative Land & Wildlife Management & Recreation Area. Tule Wind decisions by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for turbines on Ewiiaapaayp tribal lands, with a reported 6-8 Golden Eagle nests, and on State Lands Commission lands in Golden Eagle habitat are still pending. Can those agencies rely on Bitner's Golden Eagle work for Tule Wind that was apparently unpermitted and unlawful? What other breaches of law or professional ethics might be involved?
Center for Biological Diversity partnered with Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife to sue the Board of Supervisors in March 2012, claiming the impact report did not incorporate enough protections for endangered birds like the golden eagle and California condor.
They also said the report did not consider a reasonable range of project alternatives, include enough mitigation measures, or adequately explain why the county rejected curtailment - shutting down turbines at certain times - as a way to reduce bird fatalities.
In a rare show of disagreement, San Diego County supervisors split 3-2 Wednesday on whether to order a study that could lead to a comprehensive renewable energy plan.
East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob's call for the study was opposed by North County Supervisors Bill Horn and Dave Roberts, who said the effort could slow down solar and wind projects already in the pipeline.
The City Council voted 5-1 Monday night after a nearly three-hour discussion to deny an appeal of the approval granted in February by the city's Board of Zoning Adjustments for the turbine, which required a variance because it exceeds the city's 60-foot height limit.
"The [Heron Bay Homeowners Association] board has to make formal vote on it, but I think we were committed before and we're committed now that we will be filing in Superior Court," said Alan Berger, the attorney for the homeowners association. "We absolutely do not feel the board of zoning and the city council followed all of the voluminous case law in California ...."
The state approved legislation last fall in response to the January 2011 fatal crash of agricultural pilot Stephen Allen after his airplane struck a 198-foot tower on Webb Tract that he likely did not see. The tower was erected in 2009.
The county's proposed ordinance, which mirrors the state law, would require that all meteorological towers 50- to 200-feet tall are marked.
Forty-nine percent of all adults said the laws are worth the cost, and 45 percent said they hurt the economy. Among likely voters, however, the results were nearly reversed, with 49 percent saying they hurt the economy and 46 percent saying they are worth the cost.
A Torrance courthouse jury ruled Monday that Southern California Edison must pay Simona Wilson $4 million, including $3 million in punitive damages, for its negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress relating to the stray voltage that escaped its Topaz substation and entered her home on Knob Hill in Redondo Beach. ...SCE indicated an appeal is under consideration. It faces two more lawsuits from Knob Hill residents, the first which is scheduled to go to trial in September.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the death of a golden eagle at a wind farm in Kern County, California, and is asking for local resident's help.
The utilities have warned that the push to buy renewable power will raise customers' bills. PG&E, for example, estimates that renewable contracts will add about 1 to 2 percent to bills each year through 2020. ...Long-term power purchase contracts with wind farms, solar plants and other renewable energy facilities averaged 9.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
"Un-permitted take of eagles is the illegal take of eagles," Birchell said in the release. "We want power companies or any company involved in planning to build wind generation facilities in the Tehachapi range, where a significant golden eagle population exists, to contact the Service well in advance of construction and work with our biologists to develop conservation plans that will avoid take of eagles."
The authority is seeking to contract for an additional 40 megawatts of electricity, but the offers it received totaled 673 megawatts. Most of the proposals - accounting for 72 percent of the prospective electricity - are for new projects.
The approvals were for two solar and one wind projects, including NextEra Energy Inc's 750-megawatt McCoy Solar Energy Project in Southern California, the 150-megawatt Desert Harvest Solar Farm proposed by EDF Renewable Energy, also in Riverside County, and the 200-megawatt Searchlight Wind Energy Project in Nevada, south of Las Vegas. Searchlight, which is being developed by Duke Energy Corp, will use Siemens wind turbines.
Industrial-scale energy projects on Bureau of Land Management lands are pushed through by energy companies touting jobs and economic booms to communities. Not mentioned is the potential loss of tourism revenues if people stop coming to recreational areas that are visually blighted.
A federal judge has dismissed a pair of legal challenges to a wind farm outside the small desert town of Ocotillo. ...Terry Weiner, Imperial Valley coordinator for the Desert Protective Council, said her organization was weighing an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals out of concern for the California Desert Conservation Area.
The pilot of a fan-powered parasail was not electrocuted but fell about 50 feet to the ground when his ultralight aircraft ran into a power line near a major PG&E substation ...The hills in the area are dotted with dozens of wind turbines, which feed the substation
Is the federal government turning a blind eye to violations of state laws intended to protect raptors (birds of prey) and other wildlife at the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility? That's the contention of a lawsuit filed by the Desert Protective Council, an environmental group, and others against the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Pattern Energy and others.
California is weighing how to avoid a looming electricity crisis that could be brought on by its growing reliance on wind and solar power. ...the surplus generating capacity doesn't guarantee steady power flow. Even though California has a lot of plants, it doesn't have the right mix: Many of the solar and wind sources added in recent years have actually made the system more fragile, because they provide power intermittently.
Economists are more skeptical about the long-term benefit to the county. They point out that solar and wind farms bring in an initial boom of constriction jobs, but require very few workers once they're up and running.
The five projects being built in Imperial County will generate 1,946 temporary construction jobs but only 71.5 permanent ..."Once you build them you don't need many folks to maintain them."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has calculated that the neighboring Pine Tree wind facility caused 11.8 bird fatalities per megawatt in the first year of monitoring; if North Sky River turns out to be of comparable hazard, that's about 3,500 birds per year counting on NextEra's good-faith hazard mitigation.