Library from Arizona
The Arizona Corporation Commission's expected vote will be watched closely by utility and solar players far beyond the Grand Canyon State. That's because the two industries are increasingly at odds over a policy known as net metering ...he policy helps reduce the cost of going solar for homeowners. But utilities say it shoulders citizens who don't have solar panels with an unfair share of the cost to maintain the electric grid.
Solana is not the first renewable energy plant with storage; several have added banks of electric batteries. But battery storage is so expensive that these have been used mostly to smooth the output of the plant, not to store huge amounts overnight. Batteries are expensive and have a limited lifetime. They are more economical in a car, where they help electricity substitute for something more expensive, like gasoline. But for utilities, they are nowhere near cheap enough to justify using them to avoid buying high-priced, late-afternoon electricity.
All Audubon members want is to ensure, through an added condition to the permit, that Torch Renewable Energy, LLC, work closely with Arizona Game and Fish (AZGF) on continuing studies of the protected bald and golden eagles, avian and bat populations, and other possible wildlife and environmental impacts, Supplee said.
In a March 25 letter to the County Planing and Zoning Commission, the Arizona Department of Game and Fish (AZGF) "states specific concerns and recommendations for birds, bats, and other wildlife in connection with the Red Horse 2 wind energy project, including a recommendation of two years of data collection as part of the site evaluation and pre-construction monitoring," he said.
According to the project's final EIS, the geographic limits of the Grand Canyon condor population as determined by FWS overlap the project's proposed footprint. Condor can fly up to 160 miles a day in searching for food, and the Grand Canyon "experimental" population is well within that range of the Mohave County Wind Farm.
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.
A Texas-based company is looking to build a 51-megawatt wind farm in the desert, about 21 miles west of Willcox, near Muleshoe and War Bonnet Ranch Roads. Glenn Holliday of Houston, Texas, said Torch Renewable Energy, LLC (TRE) is submitting a Special Use Application (SUP) for development of the Red Horse 2 Wind Farm, in a Feb. 21 letter to Cochise County Planning Manager Michael Turisk.
Following a three-year environmental analysis, the Obama administration Friday designated 192,100 acres of public land in Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development.
Local wind turbine manufacturer Southwest Windpower laid off 14 more employees earlier this week at its Flagstaff manufacturing plant as well as several employees at their offices in Colorado.
Only months after Coconino County's first major wind energy farm got up and running this winter, the utility buying its power says more wind farms here are unlikely -- at least for now.
Ryan said there are three overarching values in the county's comprehensive plan - protection of wildlife, conservation of view sheds and the promotion of alternative energy sources. "They're in conflict with each other," Ryan said.
"If you are going to really displace coal, nuclear and natural gas with renewables, it simply is not going to happen because of land area needed and habitat loss needed for solar and wind and how much wind and solar you would need," he said. "I would rather see these (wind) subsidies go to individuals who want solar or wind on their own property. Honestly, I think commercial-scale wind is a scam."
One major hurdle for the project has been the fact that the U.S. Forest Service must approve easements for roads and utility lines, something it had denied, citing a 2005 law that disallows new encumbrances on the land.
He could forget the wind farm idea, ask the Forest Service to drop the wind farm project area out of the land exchange, or try to get the Forest Service to accept land into its system that already contains the giant wind turbines, roads and other encumbrances.
Environmentalists do not classify wind farms as having the same negative impacts on an area's natural beauty and habitat which other conventional projects would simply because they are willing to sacrifice an area's natural beauty, all the wildlife and some endangered species as well for natural renewable energy. This would be fine if wind farms were really contributing to reducing fossil fuel usage. However, nothing could be further from reality.
For all his life, it was Fred Ruskin's dream to complete the largest land exchange in Arizona history and consolidate his family's huge northern Arizona ranch into a contiguous private parcel. Now that dream is in jeopardy because of a different dream of building a wind farm on the vast grasslands of the Yavapai Ranch.
The permitting process is just getting under way. In addition to the zoning change, Yavapai Wind will also need approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission, an environmental study, permission from the FAA for the towers and lighting, and more public participation meetings before the project gets the final green light.
The farm bureau and cattle growers sided with environmental groups, with whom they often are at loggerheads, such as the Sierra Club, as well as grass-roots activists in rural communities such as the Cascabel Working Group north of Benson and residents in Picture Rocks northwest of Tucson.
As NextEra Energy Resources moves forward with plans for a wind farm on Perrin Ranch, a smaller renewable energy company is eyeing a second parcel of ranch land off Highway 64.
Arizona's rules requiring certain utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from alternative sources, such as solar and wind, by 2025 survived a fourth legal challenge from the Goldwater Institute watchdog group Thursday.