Library from Nevada
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.
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.
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- Gov. Jim Gibbons isn't joining U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in condemning three proposed coal-fired power plants in rural Nevada that would supply electricity to Las Vegas. Although coal plants long have been criticized for the pollutants they spew into the air, the Republican governor said new technology "minimizes the production of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emission." Reid, D-Nev., said he opposes the coal-fired plants in White Pine and Lincoln counties because they would produce millions of tons of pollution. As an alternative, he wants the state to consider renewable forms of energy and improved energy efficiency.
WASHINGTON - The House rejected a resolution Wednesday that would block government plans to spur construction of major new power lines in many states regardless of local opposition. The issue has been contentious in parts of the East Coast and in the Southwest, where two high priority transmission corridors for power lines were proposed. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., warned colleagues that unwanted power lines could come to their district.
A new federal proposal to help electricity flow more freely could help the energy-choked East Coast. But it could also infuriate landowners, who have traditionally gotten their way in fights against utilities in Delaware. U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman last week named Delaware as part of his proposed eastern National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor. It would run from New York to Virginia, and west to Ohio. A second corridor would run through California, Arizona and Nevada.
The nation's top energy official on Thursday proposed naming a pair of "national interest electric transmission corridors," including one covering San Diego, Riverside and five other Southern California counties, as well as parts of Arizona and Nevada. Designating national power corridors could make it easier for San Diego Gas & Electric Co. to build a high-voltage power line across the county's desert and backcountry.
Lawmakers debated three bills Wednesday that change Nevada utility regulation, including one to classify power plants that burn tires as renewable energy systems for purposes of meeting state standards for “green” energy production. The other bills heard by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee state that co-ops, non-profits and renewable energy systems are exempt from the state environmental review laws on utilities. The co-op and nonprofit measure, SB111, was approved despite opposition from state regulators and the Nevada Conservation League. The environmentalist group also opposed the other two bills, which will come up for committee votes at later hearings. SB111, sponsored by Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, would exempt non-profits and co-ops that want to build power plants from terms of the state’s Utility Environmental Protection Act, or UEPA.