CalWEA and the Los Angeles Times fail to acknowledge that wind turbines already cover vast swaths of our desert. In California's San Gorgonio Pass, 3,000 wind turbines have transformed over 20 square miles of desert and foothills into an industrial zone. In the Tehachapi area, the industry has developed over 50 square miles into a wind energy zone hosting hundreds of wind turbines. One of the largest wind projects in the country is located in the Mojave Desert near Tehachapi.
|This photo only shows a fraction of the wind development along the Tehachapi Mountains. The California Wind Energy Association wants to repeat this devastation across much of the Mojave and Colorado deserts.|
What would CalWEA like to see in the DRECP? Maps submitted by CalWEA to the DRECP planners in 2012 request the plan to include wind resource areas totalling 2.6 million acres - over 4,062 square miles - of mostly pristine desert; turbines would be visible from anywhere within nearly two-thirds of the California desert. The DRECP alternatives are not that far off from this number. Preliminary documents released in December already identify development focus areas that coincide with a healthy portion of the "Priority Wind Resource Areas" that CalWEA is asking DRECP planners to support. One of the more destructive DRECP alternatives would provide the wind industry with over one million acres of development focus areas.
|The purple areas in the map above are the "Priority Wind Resource Areas" CalWEA proposed be included as development focus areas in the DRECP.|
The Los Angeles Times got one thing right in its editorial - we need more clean energy. But instead of forking over more intact desert ecosystem to an insatiable industry, perhaps we can look to smarter alternatives. For starters, many of the turbines in the San Gorgonio Pass are older generation technology. They could be replaced with newer turbines that generate more energy. Also, Los Angeles was on to a good thing when it opened up its feed-in-tariff to generate local clean energy by placing solar panels on rooftops and parking lots. Industrializing the desert may be the quickest way for CalWEA to make money, but it is not the most sustainable way for us to generate clean energy.
|The Sierra Club's My Generation Campaign gathered to welcome one more rooftop that is no longer wasting the sun's energy. This rooftop solar installation joins tens of thousands in California, with many more to come. Photo from the Sierra Club.|