Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that the Oregon Department of Energy allow wind turbines no closer than 6 miles to a golden eagle nest. The letter concerned the Summit Ridge wind farm in Wasco County, being developed by LotusWorks of Vancouver, Wash.
"New regulatory developments affecting the entire wind energy industry made it unlikely that we will be able to complete a transaction on the timeline both PGE and RES Americas had expected, so our request for a waiver is no longer necessary."
But with more than two dozen new Oregon or Washington wind farms under construction or in the permitting stage, the BPA may soon be compromising the reliability of its hydropower facilities, said Doug Johnson, a spokesman for the agency. The BPA expects that by 2012 its capacity will fall short of the required reserve amount.
"The more wind that comes onto the grid, the harder it becomes to balance those resources with our hydropower."
“The service believes the project, including all turbines, transmission and roads, and associated facilities has the potential to result in injury and mortality of individual eagles and potential loss of nest sites over the life of the project,” wrote Nancy Gilbert, USFWS field supervisor, in the Sept. 20 report.
The same storms also brought wind. Bonneville has added 5,000 megawatts of wind power in the last few years, and it is mostly concentrated in the Columbia River Gorge in what is known as the "wind ghetto." As a result, at any given moment, almost all of the wind machines in Bonneville's territory are either running or not running. In June, they were running.
Bob Jenks, executive director of the Citizen's Utility Board of Oregon is concerned whether PGE has the financial wherewithal to build a such a large wind farm while pursuing other projects, including a transmission line it has proposed across the Cascades and the possible need for replacement generation if it goes ahead with an early shutdown of its coal-fired power plant near Boardman.
Jed Farmer has become accustomed to seeing elk raise their young in the foothills. Soon, however, those foothills could be covered in turbines, driving elk into the valley floor's farms, where they will most likely be shot by property owners, Farmer said. Farmer, a member of the Union County Planning Commission, regrets voting yes to Elkhorn Valley. He recently joined Wilkinson's group Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley.
Union County citizens will have a chance to express their opinion of a $600 million wind farm planned near Union.
The board of commissioners voted Wednesday to place a nonbinding advisory issue on the November ballot.
The proposal has been controversial from the beginning. Opponents say the wind farm would have negative impacts on scenery, property values, wildlife, the tourism industry and more. Other people favor the project because it would create jobs and economic development, and produce green energy.
After a lengthy public hearing, the Union County Board of Commissioners is set to decide whether to ask the public for its opinion on Horizon Wind Energy’s plan to build a 300-megawatt wind farm near Union....The state and not Union County is the deciding authority, but wind farm opponents have urged the county board to take a position against Horizon’s plans.
Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley, an anti-wind farm group, has been pressuring the board of commissioners to take a stand against the wind farm proposal. Recently, organized support for the wind farm appeared with the formation of a group called For Our Rural Oregon.
Residents in small towns are fighting proposed projects, raising concerns about threats to birds and big game, as well as about the way the giant towers and their blinking lights spoil some of the West's most alluring views.
Here, just west of where the Columbia bends north into Washington, some people are fighting turbines that are already up and running. In a region where people often have to holler to be heard over the roar of the wind across the barren hills, they say it is the windmills that make too much noise.
As more renewable energy developers take advantage of windy expanses of land in Oregon's eastern deserts, battles increasingly are being waged between developers and conservation groups. Developers want the land with the best wind and sun exposure. For the most part, that land is located near habitats of sage grouse, golden eagles and other wildlife.
Development of $1 billion worth of wind power on the north side of southeastern Oregon's popular Steens Mountain hinges on approval of a high-voltage transmission line that would cross federal lands.
When the wind blows harder than forecast, they can't bypass the dam turbines to lower hydro generation, because dumping too much water over the spillways harms fish.
So the other option is to cut generation at the wind farms.
Too many curtailments, however, undermines the economics of wind, not only because turbines generate less power to sell but because valuable tax and renewable energy credits are only generated when their blades are spinning.
Released last week, the draft study was prepared by Entrix Environmental Solutions for the Bureau of Land Management. The document says the proposed wind turbines and power lines would be visible from less than one-half of 1 percent of the 170,000-acre Steens Wilderness.
Columbia Energy Partners hopes to erect wind turbines on or near the mountain in four projects each generating about 104 megawatts.
"Lands in Harney County are vast and varied," Nysson said. "There are many appropriate places for wind development. But when we put these projects in places with severe environmental impacts, we aren't getting the benefit of truly green energy."
Those environmental impacts, Nysson said, include potential collisions of raptors with wind turbines, disruption of endangered sage grouse habitat and alteration of the natural character of Steens Mountain.
A recent study in Klickitat County, Washington indicates 6,500 birds and 3,000 bats are killed annually in the two states-though the number of deaths in the two states may be much higher. ...an untold number of birds are devoured by vultures or coyotes before they're included in the count.
Whether the majority of citizens support development of a 300-megawatt wind farm on Craig Mountain near Union is anybody's guess.
What's sure is, not one of the 150 people showing up at an anti-wind forum Wednesday night at the Blue Mountain Conference Center had a good thing to say about the project.
A local group opposed to construction of the Antelope Ridge Wind Farm near Union takes its case to the public Wednesday night, holding an informational meeting at the Blue Mountain Conference Center, 404 12th Street. Pamela Wilkinson, who with her husband, Dennis, leads the activist group, Friends of the Grande Ronde Valley, said the forum is designed to make people aware of possible wind power impacts.