Library from Nevada
The original plan by Searchlight Wind Project, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Duke Energy, was to produce 300 megawatts of power, but the project has been trimmed to 200 megawatts. ...the plan was altered in response to objections from the town’s residents. ...one of those residents who just happens to live west of beautiful downtown Searchlight would have had a clear view of many of those windmills from the picture window in his living room — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Midway through a two-year study about the potential impacts of a proposed wind farm on golden eagles in northern Nevada, wildlife biologists say they've identified nearly a dozen nesting sites in the area of the $200 million project in the mountains 20 miles northeast of Sparks.
With another season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will have two years of data on the soaring and hunting patterns of golden eagles near the proposed Virginia Peak project, said Amedee Bricky, who is a migratory bird biologist for the service in Sacramento. "The turbines pose a lethal hazards for the birds," she said. "The biggest concern is the birds don't recognize the spinning blades as a hazard."
The 500,000-volt line would be a direct current line that’s projected to cost about $3.5 billion. The project would help transport electricity generated from Wyoming wind farms to California, which has set a renewable target to obtain one-third of its power from renewable sources by 2020.
The plant was built with the help of a federal grant of approximately $65.7 million through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the loan from John Hancock is 80 percent guaranteed by the federal government.
The email stated Wilson Creek Wind still wishes to have the BLM "to maintain a current right-of-way application for the project, but the EIS process will be completely put on hold for the next six to eight months while the applicant reviews potential alternative sites based on the response during public scoping."
In a remote desert spot in northern Nevada, there is a geothermal plant run by a politically connected clean energy start-up that has relied heavily on an Obama administration loan guarantee and is now facing financial turmoil. The company is Nevada Geothermal Power, which like Solyndra, the now-famous California solar company, is struggling with debt after encountering problems at its only operating plant.
Complaints that the renewable energy industry creates relatively few jobs is probably accurate, say energy and economic experts. While renewable energy generation is growing fast in Nevada, it's still just a fraction of the overall economy. The Nevada Commission on Economic Development has been aggressively pushing renewable energy projects, but as a percentage of the state's total jobs, "it's not much, to be honest," said Lindsay Anderson, director of business research and development with the commission.
The issue for residents of Spring Creek, as well as outlying areas around the city of Elko, is largely about obstructing views and creating noise. SCA board member Bob Collyer wrote last fall that, "A 135-foot turbine could easily interfere with views, aesthetic values and cause some noise disturbance.
Sundance Drive will soon be home to a 66-foot tall wind turbine tower, despite protests from 14 neighboring households. After a nearly three-hour appeal hearing Monday, Elko County Commissioners unanimously agreed with a decision by the Elko County Planning Commission to allow the tower.
The question of where renewable energy plants can and should go has prompted debate across the West, in New England and in numerous other parts of the country. What makes the debate so heated is that it forces people to reconcile two imperatives: developing sources of alternative energy and supporting preservation-whether of a Civil War battlefield, an endangered species' habitat, or a sacred Native American burial site.
"To increase utility rates on Nevadans struggling to emerge from a severe economic recession would result in the imposition of an unnecessary and unfair burden on our recovery," he wrote. The bill, critics said, could have put ratepayers on the hook for $1 billion in transmission lines.
Arguing neighbors often make for good comedy fodder in films and TV shows. But a dispute between neighbors about the legality of installing a 25-kilowatt wind turbine in one Reno community could have serious repercussions for the entire state's fledgling wind industry. The ongoing tiff started, interestingly enough, with an introduction letter, resident Richard Sowers said. Last December, the 58-year-old commercial airline pilot moved from Incline Village into a two-acre property in south Reno's Forest Hills subdivision. One of the first things Sowers did after moving in was to send a note to his neighbors. "I introduced myself and my daughter and explained that I bought this property and that I looked forward to bringing it back up to the standards of the neighborhood after it went through a time of neglect," said Sowers, who was reached by phone during a layover in Japan. One part of the letter, however, would ultimately pit Sowers against his new neighbors. Sowers told them he wanted to install a wind turbine in his backyard. Sowers, who grew up in a farm with a windmill, always has had a soft spot for wind turbines. The ability to generate wind power was a key consideration for his decision to choose this neighborhood, Sowers said. Washoe County's clear-cut guidelines regarding wind turbine installation were also a factor, Sowers added. "Given the big push in Nevada for going green and making the state a green energy leader, I thought the time has come for a sea of change to occur," Sowers said. "I thought there was going to be this big embrace for green."Ominous winds Sowers' plan to install a wind turbine quickly was met with concern. Shortly after sending out his letter, Sowers said he got a call from neighbor Karl Hall, deputy district attorney for Washoe County, to request a meeting. After walking around his property and discussing different options about the proposed installation, both neighbors failed to come to an agreement. A key sticking point was the turbine's height. Sowers initial plan was to install a turbine that was going to be more than 75 feet. Although Washoe County codes generally limit residential wind turbine installations to 75 feet, it allows for bigger turbines if a special permit is issued.
Making the list means the bird's habitat would be federally protected. Green energy development of rural Nevada -- seen by state leaders as integral to Nevada's future -- could grind to a standstill with added layers of bureaucracy. Mining would be affected, and so would ranching. The Nevada Legislature is considering two bills to help the state maintain and boost the number of birds, keeping them off the list.
Conservation, labor and American Indian groups are challenging the projects on environmental grounds. The lawsuits, coupled with a broad plunge in prices for energy from competing power sources, threaten the ability of developers to secure expiring federal loan guarantees and private financing to establish the projects.
But the Halls say they were not alone in opposing the big machine. Anne Hall told us, "Of the 17 lots that make up Forest Hills subdivision, 16 are against this and 1 is for it." She says they don't like what it would do to their view, their quiet, and their property values.
"Despite very significant and unknown environmental and cultural impacts, and against the advice of several sister agencies and its own personnel, BLM refused to conduct the full environmental analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Instead, under pressure from high-level BLM officials and the industry proponent, BLM rushed through a short-cut analysis."
In recommending approval, associate county planner Dirk Goering said the proposed ordinance would encourage county policy to support development of nonpolluting renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy. Debate centered on whether such systems would be noisy and impact views.
She described the noise as "a bit like a high-pitched squeal. Sometimes it sounds like a siren, other times like a helicopter on a gusty day. You would think the sound of the trees moving in the wind would be enough to overcome the sound of this windmill - not so."