Library from California
SANTA NELLA - A proposal from a Netherlands-based company to construct an energy-producing wind turbine on property owned by the Santa Nella County Water District generated little enthusiasm from the district’s governing board.
The Department of the Interior temporarily shut down construction of the Tule Wind Energy project in McCain Valley on January 20th due to six confirmed violations of the right-of-way grant conditions, including “three incidents of ground disturbing work without a cultural monitor present and three incidents of clearing beyond the disturbance limits at four different locations,” according to the notice of temporary suspension issued January 20th.
Renewable energy from south of the border is beginning to make a big impact on the American side. Looming over the dry desert scrub, as high as a 25-story building, the giant turbines of the Energía Sierra Juárez wind farm punctuate the horizon just south of the California border, an otherworldly array of white tubular towers each topped with three, 12-ton blades.
The attached communications between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Iberdrola/Tule Wind detail the BLM's notice to suspend construction of the 186 MW wind project due to repeated violations of the right-of-way permit issued by the BLM. The Tule facility initiated construction on December 6, 2016. The notice to stop construction was issued on January 20, 2017. Construction has now resumed. Both the notice to suspend construction and to resume construction, which includes Iberdrola's response to the BLM, can be accessed by selecting the document links on this page, A portion of BLM's notice is provided below.
This important decision by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District in California found that the Department of Energy failed to follow NEPA when it issued a permit to construct a transmission line that crossed over from Mexico into the United States. The Court order that since the U.S. portion of the Line and the Mexican portion of the Line were literally "two links of a single chain" connecting the Substation to the ESJ Wind Farm, the DOE was required to consider the impacts of the project on Mexico. Portions of the decision are shown below. The full report can be accessed by clicking the document link on this page.
Three Ocotillo residents went before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
Siemens conducted a “preliminary root cause analysis,” which showed that the machine had “cracks in the structural member of the interior of the blade” (specifically, the shear web). In turn, over time, the blade failed and then struck the tower, which then collapsed.
Both this project and Siemens have a history of serious problems, however, leading to questions of whether federal or state oversight is needed to protect public safety. Ocotillo Wind, built by Pattern Energy, previously had a wind turbine fire in January 2015 and an 11-ton blade hurled off onto a public trail in May 2013, among other mechanical failures, as we reported at the time.
Wind turbine #126 collapse at Pattern Energy's Ocotillo Express LLC on November 21, 2016. The 265 MW facility, operational since July 2013, consists of 112 German-made Siemens turbines. The Siemens 2.37 MW-108 stand about 500-feet tall.
An analysis of CAISO data from 2011 through mid-2016 by consultancy ScottMadden reveals that California has largely exceeded its 2013 projections for lower net loads and higher ramps in energy demand. These changes are occurring in the wintertime too, another season that’s light on air conditioning load. In addition, the deepest drops are happening on weekends, not weekdays.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on Wednesday granted a five-year take permit for golden eagles at the 137-MW Alta East wind farm in Kern County, California.
The Protect Our Communities Foundation has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to halt the project, contending it will kill protected golden eagles, bats and other wildlife as well as spectacular views on public lands. The Audobon Society and Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD) have also opposed the project.
Section 1603 created a system whereby certain renewable energy facility owners became entitled to cash grants. But owners of “specified energy property” like the plaintiffs became entitled to grants equal to 30% of “the basis of such property.” “And therein lies the dispute,” the court said in its opinion.
Renewable energy is the big loser in a long-drawn-out energy plan for public land in California, developed over eight years between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Energy Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“We endorse renewable energy, but this was the wrong project in the wrong location.”
A wind farm off the coast of San Luis Obispo County that could help further state and national goals to produce more clean energy and jobs appears to be moving a bit closer to reality — although still probably years away from being built.
The plant's operators and the environmental groups who orchestrated the shutdown intend to fill the energy gap left by Diablo Canyon's closure with wind and solar power, as well as conservation initiatives. Even if they make good on those promises, the transition will come at a high cost -- particularly to low-income Californians already struggling to keep their lights on.
“Right now I could authorize the taking of seven bald eagles without mitigation,” said Beeler, and that is for the entire region. “Golden eagles are set at zero, so we cannot authorize any taking without mitigation.”
Renewable energy "needs to be done thoughtfully and it needs to be done right," said April Rose Sommer, executive director of the Protect our Communities Foundation (POC). "And this project is the wrong place and it's also the wrong procedure."
More projects could be terminated under the 2015 agreement as soon as next month. "SunEdison has failed to meet schedule and contract deadlines stated in the contract," says a July 6 letter from the city's Environmental Services Department to the solar provider.