Library from California
Each year, about 2,000 raptors are killed in the Altamont Pass by wind turbines, according to on-site surveys conducted by field biologists. The toll, however, could be higher because bird carcasses are quickly removed by scavengers. Environmentalists have persuaded the energy industry and federal authorities - often through litigation - to modify the size, shape and placement of wind turbines.
"It would take 167 pairs of local nesting golden eagles to produce enough young to compensate for their mortality rate related to wind energy production," said field biologist Doug Bell, manager of East Bay Regional Park District's wildlife program. "We only have 60 pairs."
"It's going to change the whole landscape," said Starks, a resident of Snow Creek ..."What it really is going to change is the first impression of the desert (visitors get) when they get off the freeway because it's going to be towering over their heads. It will be like driving into an industrial slum."
While CHP was checking the truckers documents, they noticed the loads did not match the truck permits. So, instead of escorting the trucks to Woodland, CHP detained the trucks.
Attorney Kassandra McQuillen said the county's reduced setback requirement between towers and residences may constitute an unlawful taking. "It's the shortest setback in the nation," she said. "This is the only project I have serious problems with," said McQuillen, who has negotiated wind project leases for many property owners but refuses to write leases for the Pahnamid project.
Stephen Allen, 58, was killed Jan. 10 when his airplane struck an unmarked, 198-foot-tall meteorological tower while he was seeding a field on Webb Tract Island. He likely never saw the steel tower, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Wind developer Oak Creek Energy of Oakland last month pulled the plug on a five-year effort to build a wind farm in the Castle Mountain area that Feinstein wants to add to the Mojave Preserve. "The primary reason was that we found this area was heavily desired by powerful interests," executive vice president Edward Duggan said in an e-mail.
"Competitive advantage is not worth someone's life," said Yamada. "If the MET [tower] were just two feet taller, the FAA would have required orange and white stripes and lighting, and Stephen Allen would still be with us today."
Seeking to preserve 600,000 acres of pristine desert land in Southern California for public use, the Wildlands Conservancy raised $40million to buy the land and transfer it to federal stewardship. The effort, between 1999 and 2002, included a huge swath through the Ivanpah area in northeast San Bernardino County to protect it from development.
Lassen County District 3 Supervisor Larry Wosick said the only reason the planning commission denied the use permit application was because the met tower was considered "the gateway" to a project.
The energy developers and their lobbyists have a headstart on the people who merely grew up in these hills and live their lives under these wide skies. But the residents are quick studies. They are coming to council meetings like this well-prepared with questions, and their love for this land is evident. ..."Utility-scale energy farms should be built on already- disturbed fallow farmland, not in existing wildlife habitat."
SDG&E originally planned to put up to $600 million of ratepayer funds into the farm, which was to be 309 megawatts. But critics complained to the California Public Utilities Commission that the financing arrangement put too much of the risk on ratepayers. They also didn't like the fact that the power would actually be sold in Canada, with SDG&E getting certificates.
Under the new rule approved 5-0, the county can allow exceptions if the variance doesn't endanger public safety, and if the exception increases power generating capacity or reduces risks that hawks and eagles would be hit by whirling turbine blades.
First Wind missed the deadline, citing its inability to secure land for the wind project. First Wind, which is not an official party in the case before the PUC, asked HECO to petition the commission for a deadline extension on its behalf. When HECO declined, First Wind appealed directly to the PUC.
The winds of change are blowing toward Contra Costa County regulation of new wind turbines, and county officials want to make sure the big energy machines don't create a safety risk to motorists driving by them on a busy commute route south of Byron.
A human-centric outlook, with its front-forward focus, helps little in devising bird-friendly remedies to prevent the deaths. Each year in the United States, 440,000 birds die from crashes with wind turbines, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"We want to know what your concerns are in this very early stage of design," Smith said. "We don't want it," canyon resident Steve Steele said. "Put one in your backyard first and then you can put one in mine." ...Residents expressed concerns including access, safety, wildfire potential, noise, and impact on the environment and wildlife as well as their property values.
Since the law was passed, 59 percent of the contracts the utilities have signed with renewable power developers have been more expensive than the levelized price of electricity from a new natural gas plant. The levelized price takes into account the costs of building, operating and fueling the plant. ..."The thrust of the message is, we need some kind of cost containment," said Yuliya Shmidt, a regulatory analyst with the commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates.
The three-year fight over the Sunrise Powerlink, which is designed to carry solar, wind and geothermal energy, typifies the serious challenges facing President Obama and many of the nation's governors as they tout the power of renewable energy to put people to work and rescue the planet from the effects of climate change.
Vincent questions whether the California decision will leave investors and developers reluctant to invest in new transmission. "That puts a big question mark over whether it's worthy of the investment," he said. "Every article that I've read about it has essentially said in one way or the other that this is bad news for Washington, Oregon and Montana wind. It has got to almost change the paradigm."