Library from Nevada
Silver City residents expressed mixed reactions after learning recently of a proposed wind turbine project for the nearby ridge lines. Residents weighed the greenness of wind power with the amount of visual pollution that the tall towering structures could bring to the popular 1860s-era tourist destination communities in the Comstock Historic District, which is also designated a National Historic District. The proposed project would also affect the views of people living in Washoe Valley. Great Basin Wind, LLC's new Comstock project was discussed during the September Silver City Town Board meeting's public comment segment.
Just as new wind power plans are being announced around Nevada, the state's counties are seeking power to kill such projects. ...It was the Wilson and Table mountains project that aroused county officials. A supposed threat to the habitat for deer and elk has hunters concerned, and hikers are upset for aesthetic reasons. Damage to the land when construction gear and material is hauled up the mountains would be repaired, sponsors of the project said, but not everyone accepted those assurances.
According to Sierra Pacific Power Co. spokesman Fay Anderson, there are several locations in Nevada being studied for wind-generated electricity projects, the farthest along outside of the Virginia Range project being in Elko County. There also are projects proposed for Lincoln, Clark and White Pine counties. ...
Hamilton is proposing a wind turbine farm on Bureau of Land Management property along the ridgeline of the Virginia Range, just east of Washoe Valley and west of Virginia City. The 72 turbines would be placed where the wind is strongest, beginning at McClellan Peak and extending northward to Geiger Summit, touching Carson City, Washoe County and Storey County. The whirlwind, if it comes, could be from officials and residents of Storey County, especially the Comstock Historic District, who aren't crazy about modern wind turbines being in view of the 1860s-era communities of Virginia City, Gold Hill and Silver City.
When power developers announced plans for coal plants in the Nevada desert, it was clear which side conservation groups would be on: the opposition. Less clear was how they would react when solar developers announced they would build huge arrays in that same desert. Because although renewable energy is the darling of the environmental movement - hailed as a cure for our addiction to fossil fuels - solar and other clean power plants can still be hard on the birds and bunnies trying to survive in their shadows. "Just because it's green doesn't mean ... it doesn't have impacts," said Kathleen Drakulich, a Nevada attorney with clients who develop renewable energy and more traditional fossil fuel power plants.
Before Nevada can become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy, it will have to come to peace with the hunters in Lincoln County. In that rural stretch north of Las Vegas, county commissioners oppose plans to blanket four mountaintops with enough tall wind energy turbines to power 250,000 homes. Nothing against a wind farm, the elected officials say, they just don't want windmills atop prime elk and deer habitat where families have come for generations to hunt on federal lands. The dispute is opening a new front in the cultural and environmental wars in the West.
The Bureau of Land Management on Thursday announced it took the first step to approve right of way for the first direct transmission line between Southern Nevada and Northern Nevada electrical grids. Great Basin Transmission, an affiliate of independent power producer LS Power, received a final environmental assessment from BLM, finding "no significant impact" resulting from the transmission line.
The federal government will do a sweeping study of the environmental effects of solar power plant development on public land in the Southwest, in part to speed up approval of solar projects. But for developers, the study may be a fast track to the slow lane. While the Bureau of Land Management, which controls 67 percent of Nevada land, including many rural areas where solar arrays would be located, completes a lengthy study, the agency will impose a moratorium on new applications to put solar panels on federal land. Developers will have to wait at least 22 months - until at least spring 2010 - for the results of the study.
The fate of basic industries across the Intermountain West -- grazing, mining, energy -- soon could be at least partially tied to that of a bird about the size of a chicken. The federal government is under a judge's order to reconsider an earlier decision against listing the sage grouse as endangered, and wildlife biologists are scouring the species' customary mating grounds to see how many are left. The species was seen as recently as 2004 over an area as large as California and Texas combined, but its habitat used to be close to twice that and research has shown that many types of human activity continue to harm it. ...''It will affect everything we do and know (as) a Western state, everything from livestock grazing to mining to development of sage brush habitat, wind energy,'' said Ken Mayer, director of the Nevada wildlife department. ''I don't think we have ever been in this position before.''
As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gets ready to re-examine whether the greater sage grouse needs federal protection, Espinosa and other state wildlife biologists across the West are frantically looking for the bird and the traditional mating grounds known as leks where they have lived for centuries _ or, increasingly, where they used to live. ..."It has been quite simply amazing the amount of habitat we have lost in just the last two years, particularly in the northeast part of the state," said Espinosa of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. ...whether the federal government concludes the grouse needs protection is "a huge decision." "It will affect everything we do and know (as) a Western state, everything from livestock grazing to mining to development of sage brush habitat, wind energy, transmission lines," he said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia issued a ruling Friday upholding Clark County's challenge of an FAA finding that 83 electricity-generating turbines atop Table Mountain wouldn't obstruct air space or disrupt radar systems. Clark County alleged the FAA failed to follow proper administrative procedures, didn't conduct open hearings, and disregarded a county consultant's study that the 400-foot tall turbines might threaten aviation safety.
This court decision involves one of the first times a determination by the FAA involving wind turbines in proximity to an airport was challenged. The court found that the FAA erred in finding the turbines would not be hazardous to air navigation. The county disagreed and the court sided with the county. A summary of the decision is provided below. The full decision can be accessed at the document links on this page.
Renewable energy alone cannot reliably meet Nevada's growing energy demand. To keep the lights on day and night, during windy and calm days, Nevada needs base-load electricity generation, and that is best supplied through a mix of available energy resources. This type of generation provides a constant flow of electricity. Renewables, for the most part, provide an intermittent source of electricity, which can be helpful during peak use, but not 24/7. ...Instead of attempting to stop using our most abundant resource, we need to be supporting progress in making coal cleaner and a viable source of secure and affordable energy.
A letter from U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada to Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne has been touted as a development in the crusade for renewable energy by Reid following a recent meeting with Nevada's congressional delegation regarding wind power development in Nevada. In the letter, Reid highlights his key priorities and urges Secretary Wynne to develop a centralized process for considering proposed wind projects. ..."The review process would be more fair and effective," Reid argues, "if the state as well as other federal agencies, wind power developers and the public had access to relevant military stoplight maps and an explanation of how the maps would be used in review projects."
Sierra Pacific Resources and Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. said Thursday they're working on an agreement to jointly develop and operate a large wind-energy project in Elko County and southern Idaho. Located on about 9,000 acres of federal, state and private lands - including land less than 10 miles west of Jackpot - the proposed China Mountain project could generate more than 200 megawatts of electricity.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the military will not object to wind farms in an area of eastern Nevada, moving a $1 billion project closer to reality. Tim Carlson, a renewable energy developer, plans to build a 450-megawatt wind farm in the Wilson Creek Range area 40 miles north of Pioche. ...Hill Air Force Base in Utah has been concerned about wind-power projects in the area because wind turbines can interfere with radar. But Reid received assurances from Gates that the department will not object to wind farms in the Wilson Creek area, spokesman Jon Summers said Tuesday.
And now the obstacles: Although Gates has acquiesced to Wilson Creek, he still opposes development at Goldfield, an old mining town near Tonopah. He is concerned the 300- or 400-foot-tall turbines could affect Air Force radar or training exercises. Even environmentalists, supportive of renewable energy in general and wind in particular, worry about bird deaths and the effect of roads built on mountain peaks where Nevada's winds blow strongest. Federal tax credits that support wind and other renewable energy industries are set to expire next year unless Congress renews them, which it is expected to do.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the military won't object to wind farms in an area of eastern Nevada, moving a $1 billion project closer to reality. Tim Carlson of Nevada Wind, a renewable energy developer, plans to build a 450-megawatt wind farm in the Wilson Creek Range area 40 miles north of Pioche. He said the Defense Department's agreement is "another step forward" to developing what would be Nevada's first utility-size wind farm. Hill Air Force Base in Utah has been concerned about wind-power projects in the area because wind turbines can interfere with radar.
Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) control area covers the western states of the United States including California, Arizona, portions of Montana, Idaho, Nevada etc. See: http://www.nerc.com/regional/ for a full map of the area.
Up to 20 percent of land owners in Douglas County will now be able to use windmills to generate energy. In an effort to encourage renewable energy use, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance Thursday that allows windmills to be built on residential parcels of five acres or larger.