Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from California
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has under contract all of the renewable power it needs to meet state mandates by 2010, if the promised power systems can be built in time. It's a big if. Expiring tax credits, the lag in building utility-scale renewable energy and increased competition for renewable power sources are potential roadblocks for the Northern California utility and the state's two other major utilities. ...Another issue for PG&E and the other utilities is that costs are rising 20 percent per year for renewable power.
Speculators have filed applications to develop more than 1 million acres of desert in Southern California with solar, wind and geothermal power plants, setting up a classic clash over land use with environmentalists and off-road enthusiasts. They have submitted at least 130 proposals with the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees all of the territory, in recent years and especially since 2007. The interest is so hot that even if many of the projects fall through, the remaining ones would change the look of the arid landscape. ... "We have worked for decades to protect the desert. . . . Let's not trash what we've saved," said Elden Hughes, who has worked with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups for decades.
From the early 1980s through the early ‘90s, California was the national leader in wind energy development and power produced by wind farms. ...Are the turbines benefiting one aspect of the environment at the expense of another? Longtime Snow Creek resident Les Starks calls the wind farms "industrial slums" - claiming the windmills have displaced wildlife and degraded the quality of life for nearby residents. "There was a canyon near Whitewater Canyon that used to have thousands of bats," says Starks, "and now you don't see any." He's also noticed a decline in turkey buzzards migrating through the pass. ...With wind energy having been harnessed in the Desert for nearly three decades, the next few years will determine its future here. Presently, it accounts for just two percent of California's portfolio. That number surely will rise along with new and bigger windmills - love them or hate them.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors shot down a proposal Tuesday to place a temporary ban on wind turbine projects in the Montezuma Hills near Travis Air Force Base. The supervisors voted 4-1 against a motion by Supervisor Barbara Kondylis to ban future wind turbine projects until Travis can install a new radar system. Although the current 700 or so turbines already cause radar issues, the Solano County Planning Commission recently approved adding 75 new turbines because it was discovered they would not cause additional problems. ..."If it is moot, then what's the harm?" Kondylis said. "I prefer to err on the side of safety. I'm very disappointed we aren't taking these steps.
The Apple Valley Town Council is adamantly opposing the 27 wind turbines proposed for Granite Mountain. The council is scheduled to vote Tuesday night, and is expected to recommend the San Bernardino County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors deny the project. "My concern is are we really looking at how this effects our desert environment?'" asked Councilman Scott Nassif. "All the sudden there seems to be a mad rush to the desert. We need to be smart about how we manage that resource in balance to alternative energy." ...Since the majority of the project will be on Bureau of Land Management property, the county is currently processing an Environmental Impact Report.
After watching and learning from the year-long process of approving new wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills, one county supervisor will ask Tuesday for a temporary ban on such projects. Supervisor Barbara Kondylis will present the issue at Tuesday's Solano County supervisors meeting. The discussion comes after the Planning Commission recently approved 75 new wind turbines in an area east of Travis Air Force Base. ...Now, Kondylis wants to see the approval of similar projects stopped until the kinks of the new radar system are worked out. "I really think it's time for us to stop and give Travis a chance to get their radar in place," she said. "Hopefully they will be able to resolve the problem.
A change in the city's development code that would allow for wind turbines in rural residential areas of the city received the Planning Commission's blessing Wednesday. The Planning Commission approved it 4-1, with commissioner Tom Butler voting no because he said he believed the requirements placed on having the turbines, which are energy generating windmills, would be too restrictive. The commission is recommending that the City Council consider allowing wind turbines on properties as small as 1 acre and that the wind turbines would be allowed to be as high as the already existing height requirements in the zone where they would be allowed. The height limit In rural residential zones is now 40 feet. ...Currently, the city has nothing in its codes that would allow for the use of the turbines, which have been determined to be an "abundant, renewable and nonpolluting energy resource," according to the California Development Code.
The general public and public agencies have apparently missed an important story regarding Travis AFB that has occurred over the last year. In an extraordinary show of concern, base officials have issued four letters objecting to the continued addition of wind turbines to the Montezuma Hills wind resource area. Air Force officials almost never make public statements about local land use issues, so these letters are highly unusual and show urgent concern. However, these concerns have fallen on deaf ears with Solano County leadership. ...Simply put, the wind company went over the head of the local commander and went to higher levels to secure a deal. In return for $1 million to study how to mitigate the problem, and stating that 75 new turbines would not increase the damage that the 750 existing turbines have already done, higher HQ then directed Travis to withdraw objections.
Gary Hatfield feels like Don Quixote in "Man of La Mancha." However, the avid chukar hunter from Mountain Home Village is battling to stop the building of actual windmills on some of the best chukar and quail hunting habitat in the West Mojave Desert. This week the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the county of San Bernardino have agreed to extend the comment period for the Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project to May 5.
San Bernardino County has pushed back the deadline for the public to weigh in on a proposed wind farm near Apple Valley. Under the proposal, the Granite Mountain Wind Energy Project would be constructed 11 miles east of Apple Valley in the Granite Mountains. Up to 28 wind turbines could be erected on a 3-square-mile parcel, according to Bureau of Land Management documents. ...The deadline was extended after residents expressed concerns in March that their property values would be affected, views would be lost and wildlife corridors would be blocked by roads, according to the statement.
The next step is for the applicant, enXco, to receive building permits and then begin construction, said Greg Blue, regional manager of external affairs. He said the process went a little longer than normal. However, he is happy all the correct steps were taken. "We were glad to come to a final resolution where Travis and the wind farm can co-exist," Blue said from his San Ramon office. "Every project has issues that need to be resolved and we try and be proactive. We asked for the continuance, because we knew we had to come to a positive resolution." One detail that remains to be resolved is enXco's offer of up to $1 million to Travis that the base may use to offset any potential radar issues caused by the turbines.
The ensuing paper chase through city ordinances, planning commissions, and permit hearings has consumed seven years and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and - through California's obscure 1978 Solar Shade Control Act, which criminalizes the shading of solar panels by trees - resulted in the Santa Clara County District Attorney prosecuting Mr. Treanor and Ms. Bissett. ...The Solar Shade Control Act went unnoticed for 30 years, but since December it has come up in several lawsuits, says Stamen, the tree lawsuit specialist. "The legal system," he says, "will see [more of] these cases in the near future." Treanor and Bissett hope to influence that. "We woke up one morning essentially violating criminal law," says Treanor.
The Solano County Airport Land Use Commission voted Thursday in favor of 75 wind turbines to be built in the Montezuma Hills, reversing its decision from nearly a year ago. The project will now head March 20 to the Solano County Planning Commission, where it had stalled for nearly a year after officials at Travis Air Force Base raised concerns that the turbines may affect radar systems. The change in vote came after officials at Travis indicated they are no longer objecting to the proposal, as stated in a letter written by Wing Commander Col. Steven Arquiette earlier this month.
For the first time in more than a year, a group other than the Solano County Planning Commission will be discussing a proposal to install up to 88 wind turbines in the Montezuma Hills. The Solano County Airport Land Use Commission will hear the issue Thursday night, a year after voting against the issue the first time around for fear of the turbines affecting the radar system at Travis Air Force Base. The difference this time is that officials at Travis are no longer objecting to the proposal, as stated in a letter written by Wing Commander Col. Steven Arquiette earlier this month. ...The company proposing the project, enXco, has offered Travis a gift of up to $1 million that the base may use anyway it wishes.
Peter Gross of Babcock and Brown presented a request for a permit to put up another meteorological tower in the town of Westfield. According to Gross, after the public meetings about the possibility of wind farms in the Westfield-Ripley area, several families approached him about how they could become involved in the project. "They came to us which started us looking at the possibilities in that area," Gross said. "We won't know for sure until we have the readings from the met tower but we're proceeding with hopeful caution."
"Although the wind turbines currently operating in the wind resource area do adversely impact our radar coverage, we believe opportunities will soon arise both to improve overall radar performance and to work with enXco to mitigate that impact," the Lichte letter read. Neither the Air Force nor enXco could say whether that mitigation effort will include a gift to Travis of up to $1 million that was offered by enXco at a Feb. 21 Solano County Planning Commission meeting. That money was offered to improve the radar system anyway Travis chose.
Kern County's western Mojave Desert landscape could include up to 300 more wind turbines in the near future. ...Northrop Grumman complained they would have to shut down their nearby B2 bomber test facility if the turbines are built. Homeowners also protested that the pristine 6,000 acre site would be ruined by the development of the wind farm.
The commission voted 3-1 to support the PdV Wind Energy Project by Power Partners Southwest LLC, an entity affiliated with enXco, to move forward with plans to place 100 to 300 wind turbines on nearly 6,000 acres about 15 miles west of Rosamond. ...Dave Mazur, a vice president and program manager for the B2 bomber, said the turbines would interfere with its operations at the Tejon Test Facility, so much so that it would have to close. The facility works on stealth technology testing and many classified military contracts, but it's not a military installation. Northrup asked the commission to postpone any decision so a third party, cleared to review classified issues, could review the project.
Reaction from residents on a presentation of Victor Valley College's planned wind turbine project was overwhelmingly negative ...The main concern that Silverman was admittedly unable to refute was the visual impact of the project. He showed computer-generated images of where the windmill will be and what it will look like from different locations. According to the pictures, residents with homes on the east side of the Mojave River would have the clearest view of the project.
‘Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! blow!" California may soon rant alongside King Lear as it presses to meet Assembly Bill 32's mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide. To achieve that mandate, the California Energy Commission established an energy action plan calling for the state to generate 20 percent of its electricity with renewable resources by 2010, and 33 percent by 2020.