Library from Arizona
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.
For more than nine hours, the Coconino County Planning and Zoning Commission weighed possible impacts to wildlife and scenery, renewable energy, night lighting and where to put the 62 towers (each 405 feet tall from ground to tip of blade at tallest). ...It appears likely that there will be an appeal.
Navajo lawmakers overturned a presidential veto of a wind energy project in Cameron hours after the override failed.
The Goldwater Institute took a fourth stab Tuesday at striking down rules in Arizona that force utilities to use renewable energy such as solar power. The institute's lawyer, Clint Bolick, argued in the Arizona Court of Appeals that the rules passed in 2006 by the Corporation Commission exceed the authority of those five elected officials who oversee utilities such as Arizona Public Service Co.
The Chevelon Alliance, headed by Tom Lahman, claims that wind generation funded by the government is set to create another "economic bubble." According to Lahman, developers build the farms for the government funds that flow to the projects. "The only reason that industrial wind farms exist today is the tax write-offs, subsidies and green mandates."
Winners of the race for the Arizona Corporation Commission will help shape energy policy in the state for years to come, as the state looks to boost solar and other renewable energy sources while planning to meet future demand.
Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources is asking Coconino County officials for permission to install wind-measuring towers on ranch lands north of the San Francisco Peaks, and west and southwest of Valle that span hundreds of thousands of acres.
Carcasses of eagles and other raptors are a common sight at wind farms across the country. According to a California Energy Commission study, over 1,000 birds of prey are killed every year by turbines at one wind farm, the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area near San Francisco. To address this problem, the Arizona Game and Fish Department recently issued guidelines for developers planning wind farms and solar facilities.
"There's going to be an impact [on wildlife] no matter what," Bahr said. "But the new guidelines are a good place to start discussions on what can be done in the long term." Representatives of APS and SRP, Arizona's two largest utilities providers, were unaware of the new guidelines.
The ordinance would cover a variety of industrial energy generation projects including solar power, biomass and geothermal facilities but the main focus at the work session on July 27 dealt with wind power. Most of the discussion was even more narrow in scope, dealing with noise levels and setbacks of wind farms.
NextEra Energy Resources is planning 62 wind turbines for the high desert south of Grand Canyon to be built by 2012, making enough power for about 25,000 homes at once when the wind is blowing. The company is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc., which also owns Florida Power and Light.
A new wind farm could be under construction soon, after Navajo County supervisors approved 4-1 a resolution for a special use permit for Iberdrola's Dry Lake II project. Although the request for the resolution came with a recommendation for approval from the planning and zoning commission, the matter, discussed at the supervisors' Tuesday meeting, was not passed quickly.
If a public-input session held last week is any indication, power transmission lines are not welcome neighbors, even if the electricity they carry is generated by renewable resources. ..."My general feeling is the Avra Valley is the dumping ground for anything that anybody else doesn't want in their backyard," he said.
Development of the second phase of the Dry Lake Wind Farm received a nod of approval from the Na-vajo County Planning and Zoning Commission last Thursday night as members unanimously approved a special use permit for the project. Final approval of the permit now rests with the county board of supervisors.