Library from California
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) complaint was filed last week by Stephan C. Volker of Volker Law on behalf of two rural East County grassroots non-profit groups. It challenges the San Diego County Board of Supervisors' May 15th 4-1 vote approving the Wind Energy Ordinance and Plan Amendment that sacrifices predominantly low-income rural communities and valued resources for unreliable, intermittent, and expensive industrial-scale wind and solar projects.
A Texas energy firm has abandoned its bid to build hundreds of wind turbines in Dunnigan Hills, according to a letter to one of the landowners. "In the end, we were not able to secure a partner," said Patrick Buckley of Pioneer Green Energy, in a letter to Charlie Schaupp explaining why the company was pulling out.
The Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association and other groups argue that the fast-tracking of wind and solar energy plants will prevent local groups and residents from directing these projects to the least invasive locations.
The California condor's slow 20-year climb back from the brink of extinction has long been a fragile not-quite-success story in the conservation world. So when the news came on Friday that developers of a wind-energy project near the Mojave Desert would not face criminal charges if the blades killed a single condor, environmental groups expressed grave concern. "This blindsided folks," Kelly Fuller of the American Bird Conservancy said in an interview.
In granting a right-of-way, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, with approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will shield Alta Windpower Development from prosecution if a condor is fatally injured at its 2,300-acre site near the high-desert town of Mojave during the projected 30-year lifetime of the project.
In response, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is calling on the Department of the Interior to reverse the decision, charging that allowing the legal killing of one of the most imperiled birds in the United States threatens endangered species conservation efforts across the country.
Randy Hoyle strode proudly this week along a wind-swept expanse of sand, sage and juniper in the Tehachapi Mountains that will soon bristle with antennas and listening devices designed to protect endangered California condors. As Hoyle explained, the forbidding terrain is the future home of Terra-Gen Power's 2,300-acre Alta Windpower Development —and that project will include equipment to detect incoming condors soon enough to switch off the company's massive wind turbines before they slice into one of the birds.
The mystery behind a fallen turbine blade at the Ocotillo Wind power plant east of San Diego has led the manufacturer to curtail operations at select wind farms around the world. ...The fallen blade ignited new safety concerns among critics of the plant, who posted photos and videos to the internet of the crumpled white tube.
No injuries were reported, according to the El Centro newspaper. But worldwide use of that model of turbine has been suspended while the mishap is investigated by its manufacturer, Siemens. ...In April, a blade broke from a similar Siemens turbine at an Iowa wind energy facility, the Imperial Valley Press reported.
A Siemens spokeswoman explained that "when a turbine is curtailed, it means the load on the blade is significantly reduced compared to normal operation." The company said there were about 700 such turbines deployed around the world, with most - around 600 - in the United States, and all those turbines were being examined.
NAW has learned that a blade belonging to a Siemens SWT-2.3-108 wind turbine came crashing to the ground at the 265 MW Ocotillo Wind Farm in the early morning hours of May 16. No one was injured. A spokesperson from Pattern Energy, which owns and operates Ocotillo, corroborated the incident.
Siemens does not yet know the root cause of this incident and is working to determine if and how this is related to a recent similar incident in Iowa. Today, Siemens is taking the step of curtailing all turbines with the B53 blade type globally. These turbines will remain curtailed until it can be determined they are not at risk of a similar malfunction. The Iowa incident took place in April at MidAmerican Holdings' 200-megawatt Eclipse wind farm.
A massive blade from one of the 112 wind turbines recently installed was found near a tower base Thursday, after plummeting onto the ground overnight, triggering safety concerns among officials and some residents. ...the project is now shut down.
News report of the 173-foot long blade that crashed to the ground and shattered into pieces at the Ocotillo wind facility raises concerns about wind turbines built close to people and sensitive resources. Duration: 3 minutes 29 seconds
This wholly avoidable public health and safety hazard occurred just one day after San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the revised Wind Energy Ordinance & Boulevard Community Plan to remove community protections to allow 500 foot tall industrial wind turbines on private land in previously protected areas near homes, recreation areas, and sensitive wildlife.
On Wednesday, attorney Richard Adam, representing the Bedfords, argued that time extension violated the plain language of both the original conditional use permit for the project and the Land Use Development Code.
The 315-megawatt Ocotillo Express Wind project in Imperial County is shut down today after a 10-ton blade came loose from one of the project's 112 wind turbines, landing about 100 yards away on a public road.
Nearly all the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws, which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies, over the past five years. "What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK," said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, Wyo.
The problem, he said, is that those big investment firms tend to focus on mature companies that are generating significant revenue, and there are few of those in cleantech. Meanwhile, more government investment seems increasingly far off as congressional Republicans demand answers about the failure of Fisker Automotive.
In a decision swiftly condemned by conservationists and wildlife advocates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said operators of Terra-Gen Power's wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains will not be prosecuted if their turbines accidentally kill a condor during the expected 30-year life span of the project.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grants exceptions to a wind farm and a building project in harassing or killing the endangered birds.