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Showing posts with the label Ocotillo

Four Mojave Wind Projects Begin Early Environmental Review

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At least four separate wind projects in the Mojave Desert are in the early stages of environmental review, according to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) land records database, and would industrialize over 76 square miles of intact desert and ridgeline if they receive final approval.   Energy companies are interested in several other swaths of the Mojave, but are only evaluating the strength of wind resources or have not taken significant steps toward environmental review.

Laurel Mountain Wind

L.H. Renewables, LLC, A Redlands-based corporate entity registered to a post office box, has submitted a plan of development for the Laurel Mountain wind project, which would involve installing as many as 130 wind turbines on nearly 40 square miles of intact desert west of Ridgecrest.  The company has been testing wind resources in the area for years, and as of early November the BLM initiated environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act.  

The Laurel Mountain wind pr…

Los Angeles Times Misses the Full Story on Wind

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The Los Angeles Times today published an editorial sympathizing with the California Wind Energy Association (CalWEA) regarding the relative lack of development zones suitable for wind energy in California's desert.  CalWEA believes the planning process for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) - which will identify areas where land management and wildlife officials believe utility-scale renewable energy development is appropriate in the California Desert District - favors solar over wind.

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 Tehachap…

Solar Awakening

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An article in Renewable Energy World discusses natural gas as a "bridge" to renewable energy sources, such as utility-scale solar and wind, showing how energy companies are exploiting demand for renewable energy to double down on investment in fossil fuels and unnecessary infrastructure, such as transmission lines.   As long as we draw the majority of our energy from giant utility companies, you can bet on an unhealthy mix of fossil fuels in the grid.  Utility companies are guaranteed a fixed return on the massive transmission lines that link expensive and dirty central station power plants to our cities from far away, and the companies that build those power plants are heavily invested in fossil fuels.

Wind turbines spoiling desert landscapes require new transmission lines, and the "intermittency" of the wind requires a new natural gas plant, and more transmission lines.  These companies collect a guaranteed profit from you,  and then turn around and invest that m…

Aerial Photos Show Wind Project's Toll on the Desert

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Pattern Energy has begun clearing beautiful desert near Anza-Borrego State Park for the nearly 16 square mile Ocotillo Express Wind project.  Once completed, the facility will consist of 112 wind turbines, each one standing over 400 feet tall, and requiring wide new roads carved into the fragile desert soil.

Photographer Phillip Colla gives us a birds-eye view of the beginning phase of the destruction with a series of images available at his website.  The photos were made possible by aviation support provided by LightHawk.









As climate change, urban sprawl and other industrial uses target our wildlands, we should be challenging ourselves to adopt a more sustainable renewable energy path focused on improving our energy efficiency,  and deploying solar panels on rooftops, over parking lots, or on already-disturbed lands.



California Governor's Office Silences Public Employees

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Germany added over 5,000 megawatts of rooftop solar in one year without sacrificing any natural treasures.  Sacramento has spent nearly two years planning to destroy pristine desert for a 465 megawatt wind energy project.  And apparently they had to silence the stewards of our lands in order to get it done.

California Governor Jerry Brown's office may have ordered state employees to suppress concerns about the environmental damage of a wind energy project, according to an East County Magazine and 10 News investigative report.  Stewards of California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park planned to submit comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the Ocotillo Express wind energy project, but the Governor's Office reportedly called them and ordered them not to submit comments.  Biologists and conservationists have raised concerns that the project, which the Pattern Energy Group will build on nearly 20 square miles of public land, threatens habitat for raptors, bat…

Wind Energy, Waste, Wildlands

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The Ocotillo Express Wind energy project threatens the fragmentation and destruction of over 23 square miles of public land adjacent to Anza-Borrego State Park in the Sonoran Desert of California.  The swath of land -- as big as the city of San Diego -- is a beautiful desert vista ringed by mountains near the small town of Ocotillo, but the project would etch miles of wide roads into the desert and build over 150 wind turbines that are equal in height to 30-story skyscrapers. The project would require tons of cement and steel, and the spinning blades will pose a danger to threatened bird species.  The project would be owned by Pattern Energy Group.  Renewable energy does not have to be so destructive-- solar panels on rooftops, over parking lots, and on already-disturbed lands can meet our energy needs without destroying wildlands.

The Bureau of Land Management is currently considering the proposal, and has published a draft environmental impact statement.   The deadline for public com…