Articles from California
Though touted as more “wildlife friendly” than their windmill ancestors, the new turbines aren’t allaying the concerns of naturalists who have long been concerned about the area’s bird population. The spinning blades still are projected to kill dozens of birds each year, including golden eagles. The Altamont Pass area is a critical breeding and wintering habitat for the eagles, said Glenn Phillips, director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society. ...Phillips said the larger, slower-spinning blades on newer turbines haven’t significantly slowed the bird deaths, however. He said bird kills appear to be more closely tied to the amount of energy being produced, the amount of air that’s “swept” by the blades, and how long they run.
The federal Bureau of Land Management confirmed it ordered the halt of operations at the Ocotillo Wind facility following Sept. 16's collapse of a 300-foot wind turbine.
“All turbines at the facility have been shut down pending completion of the root cause analysis. Siemens Gamesa is the turbine manufacturer and is leading the investigation into the root cause,” Siemens spokesperson Myca Welch stated in an email Thursday afternoon. Welch did not immediately provide information on when the facility was taken offline or a timeline on when it might resume operation.
Offshore wind is no longer a distant possibility in California.
ConnectGen LLC marketed the changes in a half-page advertisement in Tuesday’s Record Searchlight, calling the revisions “Substantially Reduced Impact & Visibility.” The company says it has reduced the number of wind turbines from 72 to 48, which has cut the overall footprint of the project by more than 33%. ConnectGen also proposes to decrease the height of the turbines by 10%, from 679 feet to about 610 feet.
Two of the world’s largest oil and gas companies, along with several other energy companies, have expressed interest in pursuing a lease to develop an offshore wind energy farm off the Central Coast. A subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell — Shell Renewables and Energy Solutions LLC — and bp America Inc. both wrote to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to express eagerness about the proposed floating offshore wind farm in the Morro Bay call area west of Cambria and San Simeon.
Residents in Ocotillo are voicing concerns after yet another wind turbine collapse at the Ocotillo Wind Energy facility. There were no injuries or damage to other structures when the 300-foot-tall turbine crashed to the desert floor at the trouble-prone facility on Thursday, September 16. But residents are raising serious questions over public safety at the site, which produces energy to SDG&E to power the San Diego region.
Another major problem has struck at a pioneering big battery project, this time at the 400MW/1600MWh Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility in California, south of San Francisco, which was recently expanded to become the world’s largest of its kind. The owner and operator of the big battery, Vistra Corp, says an investigation is underway into an “overheating incident” at the Moss Landing facility, which did not result in a fire, but has taken the 300MW, four hour storage first phase of the project out of service.
Rejected by the Shasta County Planning Commission after a public hearing in June, the controversial Fountain Wind project planned for the Intermountain area is now getting a second look by the company that wants to build it. But the founder of a citizen's group that opposes the wind farm said there is no scenario that would get members to change their mind.
FERC is saving California’s politicians from their green energy profligacy, and its ruling may cause power shortages across other Western states. Residents in other states may also have to pay more for power on the spot market. Utilities and their regulators in Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and New Mexico have protested California’s power grab. These states have also become more dependent on solar to meet their climate goals. Renewable energy poses a systemic risk to the grid that can’t be mitigated by merely building more transmission lines. If states like Arizona and Nevada were to import wind power from the Midwest, they’d still be vulnerable to the vagaries of weather.
Projects designed to improve the efficiency of wind-driven energy production in the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (APWRA) came with an unanticipated impact — an increase in bat mortality. While scientific experts are hesitant to even speculate at this point why they’re finding more bat carcasses near the new turbines than they did with the old turbines, those involved are aiming to create a reliable and repeatable means for studying and reducing the rate of deaths.
The modest profit projections for Fountain Wind belie the massive corporate bankrolls backing the green-energy project. ConnectGen was established by the billionaire international private equity firm Quantum Energy Partners, which was recently in the news for bidding on bankrupt oil and gas corporations as well as launching a campaign to raise $4.5 billion for their investment portfolio. Fountain Wind also stands to enrich Shasta Cascade Timberland, a subsidiary of New Forest products, an Australian company that has more than AU$5.7 billion in assets internationally. The nearly 30,000 acres of unceded Pit River ancestral land that is being leased to ConnectGen for the project is now owned by Shasta Cascade Timberland.
The Board of Supervisors will issue a final vote on Fountain Wind at a date still to be determined, according to Shasta County Senior Planner Lio Salazar. While the commissioners expressed multiple concerns about the project, three of them said protecting the Pit River tribe’s cultural heritage, religious practices and the remains of their ancestors was a significant reason they denied the permit.“These are places where they go to pray and spend time with their god . . .How would you feel if we put a windmill in your church?”
For California, meeting electricity demand means watching how weather conditions are impacting the entire West, as well as other industries. “When it gets simultaneously hot and dry in all these regions, the amount of power available to California through imports puts a lot of stress on the system, particularly right after sunset when loads are still very high and the solar fleet is diminishing," Mainzer said.
One of the background sounds in cities such as Lagos, Baghdad or Kabul is the heavy thrumming of diesel generators, which rise in pitch and volume as the grid-powered street lights dim with equipment failures or fuel shortages.
“At one time the call area was 120 square miles and so that’s what we decided on and that’s what the fishermen and the city thought was going to happen — and it didn’t,” Hafer said. “Then it grew immensely after that ... Now they want to take away almost 400 square miles. And so we’re basically screwed.” “I’m quite concerned that this feels like a gold rush — that the nation and offshore wind developers are just rushing for this as a solution that will help with climate change without really thinking about the consequences,” Scheiblauer said.
Bucking a staff recommendation, the Shasta County Planning Commission late Tuesday night unanimously rejected the use permit for a controversial wind farm project planned for the Intermountain area just west of Burney. Commissioners sided with opponents who said the Fountain Wind project's impact on the environment, the scenery and the potential long-term harm it would do to the area's economy outweighed the benefits of the massive wind farm.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has issued an incidental take permit for the existing 189-MW Manzana wind farm in California after accepting a condors conservation plan submitted by the plant owner -- Avangrid Renewables LLC.
The depths of the Pacific Ocean makes installing traditional offshore wind turbines difficult. Floating turbines will likely be the technology of choice off the California coast.
ConnectGen wants to build the project on nearly 4,500 acres six miles west of Burney and one mile west of the existing Hatchet Ridge wind project. The wind farm would feature up to 71 turbines that could be as high as 679 feet – higher than Shasta Dam.