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Report paves way for wildlife-friendly wind power in Monterey County

The thousand of birds killed by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass tainted the reputation of the renewable energy source. But according to a recent report by the Ventana Wildlife Society and the Stanford Solar and Wind Energy Project, smaller wind-power projects may be able to harvest energy in some parts of Monterey County without harming the endangered California condor. "The condor is the main thing that's been holding up the development of wind-power projects in Monterey County," said John Roitz.

Authors: Harm to condor minimized in parts of county

The thousand of birds killed by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass tainted the reputation of the renewable energy source.

But according to a recent report by the Ventana Wildlife Society and the Stanford Solar and Wind Energy Project, smaller wind-power projects may be able to harvest energy in some parts of Monterey County without harming the endangered California condor.

"The condor is the main thing that's been holding up the development of wind-power projects in Monterey County," said John Roitz, director of Salinas Valley Wind Power. Recently constructed wind turbines in San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties are not situated in the flight path of the condors as turbines in the wind-rich lower Salinas Valley would be.

Any building project that might kill one of the 181 remaining condors can be axed in the permit stage, said Tim McCormick, director of the Monterey County Building Services department.

The report, released last week, recommends restricting community-scale wind projects to a stretch of the Salinas Valley between Gonzales and King... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Authors: Harm to condor minimized in parts of county

The thousand of birds killed by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass tainted the reputation of the renewable energy source.

But according to a recent report by the Ventana Wildlife Society and the Stanford Solar and Wind Energy Project, smaller wind-power projects may be able to harvest energy in some parts of Monterey County without harming the endangered California condor.

"The condor is the main thing that's been holding up the development of wind-power projects in Monterey County," said John Roitz, director of Salinas Valley Wind Power. Recently constructed wind turbines in San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties are not situated in the flight path of the condors as turbines in the wind-rich lower Salinas Valley would be.

Any building project that might kill one of the 181 remaining condors can be axed in the permit stage, said Tim McCormick, director of the Monterey County Building Services department.

The report, released last week, recommends restricting community-scale wind projects to a stretch of the Salinas Valley between Gonzales and King City. The location minimizes the chance of a condor encountering a wind turbine and maximizes the amount of available wind energy.

"The Salinas Valley has a great opportunity for community-scale wind and smaller wind power," said Eric Stoutenberg, a Stanford civil engineering graduate student who co-wrote the report.

Stoutenberg is a project manager for the Stanford Solar and Wind Energy Project. SWEP is working with the managers of the wastewater treatment plant under construction in Soledad to assess the feasibility of powering the plant with wind turbines.

The path to wind-power projects in Soledad and elsewhere in Monterey County is still not entirely clear. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Fish and Game must review and endorse the report before permit applications for wind-power projects stand a chance of approval, Roitz said.

In addition, "there's still a lot of work to be done to look at other species, to look at what makes sense from an economic as well as environmental perspective," said Alana Knaster, deputy director of the Monterey County Resource Management Agency.

A danger to bats?

Bats may be the next species to consider, said Dave Johnston, a bat expert for H.T. Harvey & Associates, a Bay Area-based ecological consulting firm.
"It's potentially a very serious problem," Johnston said.

Bat fatalities have been documented at wind turbines on the East Coast, but scientists have not gathered any data on bats at wind-power facilities in California, Johnston said. Several bat species, including some that may soon be considered endangered, may feed in the Salinas Valley or pass through during migration.

According to Humboldt State University professor Joe Szewczak, bats eat one-third to one-half of their body weight in insects every night. The snacking habits of millions of bats save agriculture and forests from many insect pests.


Source: http://www.thecalifornian.c...

OCT 27 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/22856-report-paves-way-for-wildlife-friendly-wind-power-in-monterey-county
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