Library from Arizona
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.
"I am against any kind of wind generation in our mountains," said Tom Thurman, District 2 supervisor. "They are gorgeous, they are pristine, there's wilderness just north of there." "[A wind farm is] going to be seen for miles and miles," he continued. "As far as I am concerned, I will fight it."
Supervisor Lena Fowler said there were unanswered questions about whether the project might affect bird and bat migration, and the supervisors spent some time adding clauses to give an advisory group more ability to suspend operations during migration periods, and asking questions of Arizona Game and Fish. "How can we study the natural state of a species when we've already disturbed it?" Fowler asked.
The Board of Supervisors approved conditional use permits for two companies to place up to four meteorological towers that will analyze wind speed, direction and other data. The companies are Invenergy Wind Development and Pacific Wind Development. Barry Weller, a member of the public, said that wind farms are a burden to communities and asked the board to please consider the issue before going further.