Library filed under General from California
Energy production has picked up at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert, but not enough to allow the plant’s owners — who include Google and Oakland-based BrightSource Energy — to avoid the risk of defaulting on their contracts to deliver electricity to Pacific Gas & Electric. Majority owner and plant manager NRG Energy said in its most recent quarterly report that it won’t be able to deliver the electricity promised in its power purchase agreements with PG&E. The agreements cover output from two of Ivanpah’s three units.
An application to repower a 5-square-mile section of the Altamont with up to 32 modern wind turbines has been continued to Dec. 10 in an effort to obtain more transparency concerning the science behind the decisions on where to site the turbines. The East County Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) met Nov. 19. It heard from applicant Altamont Wind LLC, Dyer Road residents, East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) representatives, and Alameda County staff on the application.
The plan will encourage energy companies to build solar, wind and geothermal power plants on 388,000 acres of federally managed land, although only a portion of that land is likely to be developed. The plan also sets aside 5.3 million acres for conservation and 3.8 million acres for recreation, virtually all of which would be closed to energy development.
Altamont Winds Vice President Bill Damon wrote in the email to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service that "the reduction of avian impacts" was the primary reason ...The shutdown was a surprise, as Altamont had earlier this year received an extension to operate until 2018, which frustrated environmentalists. ...Judy Holzworth, the regional communications director for U.S. Fish and Wildlife, said her agency was happy to hear the news.
And former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar freed up large expanses of public land for the plant despite environmentalists’ concerns about wildlife habitat and the loss of open space. Ivanpah was built on 5.6 square miles of mostly undisturbed public land that was home to desert tortoises, a species threatened with extinction, among other wildlife. ...“It feels like a bait and switch."
Although permits for the project’s first phase have been approved, permission from the California Public Utilities Commisison (CPUC) is still needed, and must provide opportunity for public comment first. In addition, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has not yet issued take permits for golden eagles at the site. The project has generated substantial opposition in the community, with concerns raised over the impact of 500-foot-tall turbines lining the main entry to the federal recreation area.
Bird carnage combined with opposition by Native American tribes to industrial projects on undeveloped land has made California regulators wary of approving more. Last September, Abengoa and BrightSource abandoned their quest to build a solar-thermal project near Joshua Tree National Park ...In March the Board of Supervisors of Inyo County voted to ban solar-thermal power plants altogether. “Ivanpah had a significant effect on the decision making,” said Joshua Hart, the county’s planning director.
In the United States, the boom in wind energy has been dramatic. Last year wind generation grew more than all other sources of energy in the United States — and supplied almost five percent of total demand for electricity. And no wonder, as the cost of wind technology has plummeted 58 percent over the last five years, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
INSIDE HOOVER DAM — The floor rumbled under Mark Cook. His legs vibrated as he stood in a tunnel tucked into the thick base of Hoover Dam, 430 feet below the tourists looking out over Lake Mead. Beneath him, water roared through steel pipes 13 feet tall. Nearby, heavy turbines hummed with mechanical intensity.
Wind energy deliveries to California's top utility fell by half in the first two months of the year because of unusually weak winds in some Western states. The slowed wind energy production has exacerbated electricity shortfalls caused by a long drought, which has reduced hydroelectric power in the most populous U.S. state.
Haggerty, Valle and Miley on March 24 voted in favor of extending the company's permit until 2018 in a controversial 3-2 decision. Estimates suggest the company's outdated windmills will kill thousands of birds over that period. Miley now says he wants to revisit the issue. ...The supervisors' vote was slammed by opponents such as Audubon California and the East Bay Regional Park District. They say the extension means three more years of disastrous effects on the golden eagle population, which has seen a massive decline since turbines were first installed in the Altamont Pass in the 1980s.
New permitting requirements would be particularly troubling, Noble said, because the Coachella Valley already has its own plan to protect birds and other wildlife. Officials spent 10 years working on the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan that covers more than one million acres from Cabazon to the Salton Sea. Noble called the new plan "a massive overreach."
A controversial extension of wind turbine permits on the Altamont Pass, which opponents claim could kill hundreds of birds of prey over the next three years, is scheduled to head to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The Bureau of Land Management rejected a controversial solar project near Death Valley National Park ...Environmental groups have staunchly opposed both projects, saying they would interrupt undisturbed desert landscapes and impact several threatened species, including desert tortoises and golden eagles.
The report by Interior's Office of the Inspector General detailed potential improper conduct by Steve Black, who worked as senior adviser to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for energy, environment, and natural resources policy. While he held this position Black dated NextEra Energy Resources lobbyist Manal Yamout, a conflict as Black oversaw several applications by Yamout's employer to build wind and solar facilities on public land.
The withdrawal of the application for the proposed North Peak Wind Energy project more than a week ago was seen as good news — very good news — by many desert dwellers and lovers. ...Rich Ravana, president of the Alliance for Desert Preservation, called it “great news.”
Despite a moratorium on solar and wind developments in Solano County, NextEra Energy will be allowed to replace a damaged wind turbine with one that is taller.
Lovingood told the Rotary Club of Victorville that his office is tasked with providing services and taking care of constituents’ needs. That included working with residents — and groups like the Mojave Communities Conservation Collaborative and the Alliance for Desert Preservation — in helping to convince E.ON Climate and Renewables to withdraw its application for the North Peak Wind Energy Project in Juniper Flats.
The proposed facility was designed to generate 126 megawatts of electricity according to applicant E.ON Climate & Renewables North America. ...Mention of the project no longer appeared late Friday on the BLM’s Barstow Field Office website nor in the online list of E.ON’s wind-energy projects.
Under the plan proposed on Tuesday, Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy would build and operate a $4 billion wind farm near Chugwater, Wyo., 40 miles north of Cheyenne. It would generate up to 2,100 megawatts of electricity, the bulk of which would be destined for California's Los Angeles basin.