Library from Nevada
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."
After about two hours of testimony and discussion, Kermitt Waters' neighbors rejoiced and hugged. The Henderson City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night against Waters' request to build a 45-foot wind turbine in his backyard.
The Henderson City Council proposed a compromise to settle an ongoing battle with a man who wants to build a 45-foot-tall wind turbine in his backyard. ...Kirk said the goal is to find a location "that is a little less densely populated and is probably a little more efficient for wind turbines." "I wouldn't want to live next to (a turbine) and I can almost guarantee I wouldn't buy a house next to one," Kirk said.
One community is united as they fight to block what a neighbor wants to build in his backyard. It's a battle that has been going on for several months. One man wants a wind turbine, his neighbors saying, not in our neighborhood. Now other surrounding communities are joining the fight.
Some environmentalists are breaking ranks and fighting the solar industry. The problem, as they see it, is that tens of thousands of acres of mostly pristine desert is slated for bulldozing to accommodate utility-scale solar power plants in Nevada and across the Southwest. ...Renewable energy developers have long been the darlings of environmental groups, but Saturday's event highlights a growing rift within those groups.
Chinese wind power provider A-Power Energy Generation Systems(SPWR) and its U.S.-based partners announced on Thursday plans to build a wind turbine production and assembly plant in Nevada that will create up to 1,000 permanent jobs for the state and more jobs during the construction phase. The announcement about the Nevada plant was notable for two reasons: the selection of Nevada as home state for the wind energy plant, and the political power broker who is associated with the state.
NV Energy's plan to construct a power transmission line from Ely to Las Vegas and connect it to the line that reaches north from Ely to Boulder Valley has cleared another step toward project approval. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Ely office has released a draft supplemental environmental impact statement on the proposed One Nevada Line, also called ON Line, and is accepting public comment through Jan. 8. ...The line opens "a pathway for renewable energy currently inaccessible in northern and eastern Nevada."
In Utah, state officials are fielding various combinations of energy proposals, a list that includes solar and geothermal installations and an energy storage project ...Scores of projects - some speculative, others well-funded and a few quirky - have surfaced with energy companies eager to take advantage of loan guarantees and tax breaks being promoted by President Barack Obama.
A state committee is recommending that power companies spend about $3 billion on transmission lines to connect renewable energy sites in rural Nevada to existing lines.