Library from Nevada
Earlier this month, attorneys filed in U.S. District Court of Nevada what we will call for the sake of brevity Bundorf v. Salazar. (Searchlight wind suit) The suit accuses former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar of acting in "a manner that is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law" when he granted permission for construction of an 87-turbine wind farm east of Searchlight on 19,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land.
Plaintiffs charge that the project, to be built by Duke Energy, would (in the words of the suit) "pose significant adverse harm to a wide array of sensitive and protected species ... including desert tortoise, golden eagles, bald eagles, and residential and migratory birds and bats... through direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts" which weren't adequately addressed.
The 30-page complaint says that the environmental impact statement (EIS) "presents a one-sided and incomplete portrait of the proposed project and its likely adverse environmental impacts." "The Project would pose significant adverse harm to a wide array of sensitive and protected species -- including desert tortoise, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, bald eagles, and resident and migratory birds and bats -- through direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts."
Environmentalists and three Nevada residents are suing the Interior Department over its approval of the Searchlight Wind Energy Project, arguing the wind farm would sit in an area of the Mojave Desert that would cause widespread damage to sensitive wildlife habitat.
The wind farm and its transmission lines "will dominate the Searchlight desert and mountains," and the turbines, "with spinning blades that reach as high as the top of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas," will ruin the area for visitors, residents and businesses, the complaint stated, as well as cause "significant harm" to an array of animals through "direct, indirect and cumulative impacts."
Environmental groups and residents of Nevada have filed a complaint in U.S. District Court of Nevada challenging the Department of the Interior's permit granting Duke Energy permission to construct an 87-turbine wind energy facility east of Searchlight on 19,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land. Excerpts of the complaint are provided below. The plaintiffs argue that Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar acted in a manner that was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to law. The full complaint can be accessed by clicking on the link(s) at the bottom of this page.
The Department of the Interior may have recently approved the Searchlight Wind Project, but those who stand to benefit most from the project are politicians and well-connected campaign donors, and not the people of Searchlight. "People from other communities told us, ‘you don't want [wind turbines],'" said Sandy Walters, chairwoman of the Searchlight Town Advisory Board. "We tried telling that to BLM and Duke Energy, too."
Recent studies and testimony by real estate appraisers from around the world indicate that properties within two to three miles of wind turbines have seen their values decline from 25 to 60 percent - with the decreased value being "tantamount to an inverse condemnation, or regulatory taking of private property rights."
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting an investigation after a golden eagle was killed in late February at the Spring Valley Wind Farm, about 300 miles north of Las Vegas. ...the wind farm could face a fine of up to $200,000 because it does not hold a federal "take" permit that would allow the incidental death of a golden or bald eagle. Stafford said the matter is under investigation by the service's Office of Law Enforcement.
"Literal beacons of the ‘green' energy movement, giant wind turbines have been one of the renewable energy sources of choice for the U.S. government, which has spent billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing their construction ...But high maintenance costs, high rates of failure, and fluctuating weather conditions that affect energy production render wind turbines expensive and inefficient."
The approvals were for two solar and one wind projects, including NextEra Energy Inc's 750-megawatt McCoy Solar Energy Project in Southern California, the 150-megawatt Desert Harvest Solar Farm proposed by EDF Renewable Energy, also in Riverside County, and the 200-megawatt Searchlight Wind Energy Project in Nevada, south of Las Vegas. Searchlight, which is being developed by Duke Energy Corp, will use Siemens wind turbines.
Already a dead Golden eagle was found on February 25 at a wind turbine generator in the Spring Valley, a place with a dense population of eagles. Those who knew thae area had predicted eagle mortality was likely, but no one thought it would be so soon after the project was completed.
When the Legislature requires power companies to buy a certain percentage of their power from alternative producers - regardless of cost - they're already out of bounds. In addition to inviting graft and corruption this artificially drives up rates, crippling economic recovery, while sending false signals that alternatives to fossil fuels are a good investment.
Building a 75-foot-tall wind turbine adjacent to a quiet subdivision is a nuisance because, in part, it ruins the scenery and creates noise, the Nevada Supreme Court has ruled.
This unanimous decision by the Nevada Supreme Court could have impacts across the U.S. The Court lays out a clear and convincing explanation for why a personal wind turbine in a residential subdivision should be prohibited. In the order, Justice Jim Hardesty covers noise, property value impacts and the effect on aesthetics including shadow flicker. Excerpts of the order are provided below. The full order can be accessed at the below links.
Critics say Nevada's largest utility is undercutting the spirit of legislation designed to spur renewable energy development by purchasing power from out-of-state sources. ...the company has used wind power from Wyoming, geothermal from Utah and hydropower from Idaho dams to help it meet the state's requirement.
Advocates of small-scale wind energy production say stories like the Sousas' experience at their high-desert home highlight the challenge early adopters face when investing in a nascent industry. That includes sorting through unsubstantiated claims made by some manufacturers of wind turbines meant for backyards or city parks as well as maintaining a realistic set of expectations for the technology.
At a time when every penny counts, a number of citizens of the West could soon see higher electric and water bills to subsidize the delivery of wind power from thousands of miles away to California. And given the history of power generation in our area, it hardly seems fair.
No doubt renewable energy technologies will continue to evolve and become more viable. But it would be helpful if conferences such as this one included a serious discussion of economic realities rather than simply devolving into a pep rally for increased public handouts to favored green producers all too eager to stick out their hands.
The politics of renewable energy headed the agenda in battleground Nevada on Tuesday, as Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar opened a fifth annual green energy conference with the announcement that a 12-square-mile wind energy farm in rural White Pine County will begin producing electricity.