News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

Embarrassing Snafu at Ocotillo Express Wind Project

Oops! | Photo courtesy Ocotillo Wind Turbine Destruction

A photo making the rounds of social media may prove embarrassing to Pattern Energy, the developer of the huge Ocotillo Express Wind project in Imperial County. The photo, which we've embedded here, shows a recycling truck for one of the project's contractors dug in to the rims on land clearly marked as a BLM habitat restoration area.

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According to the moderators of the "Ocotillo Wind Turbine Destruction" Facebook page, set up by local opponents of the 315-megawatt wind facility at the southwest corner of Imperial County near Anza Borrego, the flatbed truck was hauling a dumpster used to recycle high-voltage electrical wire cutoffs. When it ventured off the approved road onto a BLM ecological restoration area, the truck apparently hit a patch of soft soil and dug itself in.

Restoration of disturbed areas in the California desert is crucial if renewable energy developers are to live up to their promises not to damage more desert than is strictly necessary, and driving a multi-ton truck onto an area that's been clearly marked as a restoration area from which vehicles are excluded is not the best way to facilitate that restoration. ReWire was unable to learn of the fate of the stuck truck by press time.

This isn't the first time that reports have surfaced of workers at the Ocotillo Express Wind site failing to hew to the highest standards of professionalism. In February, Pattern's construction manager Russell Scott Graham was arrested by Imperial County Sheriffs deputies after allegedly assaulting and threatening Parke Ewing, a local opponent of the project. A local judge granted Ewing a protective injunction in March forbidding Graham from contacting Ewing or owning firearms for as long as the construction project lasted.

The Ocotillo Express Wind project, which occupies more than 12,000 acres of land on the southeast edge of Anza Borrego Desert State Park, will include 112 turbines when it's completed in June -- assuming the crews manage to avoid getting any more equipment stuck in the desert sand.


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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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For the wind industry rules and laws mean nothing. About the only law I have seen them obey is the unwritten law that says "don't get caught". The early mortality studies conducted at Altamont Pass only helped the industry shore up some loose ends so they could keep their scam going. Now doing mortality searches only 45 feet out from a 400 ft turbine instead of 500 feet out is being allowed so the slaughter can be hidden. The FWS, the wind industry, and a University were involved in this cover-up.

Remember this............ back in 1990 it was suggested by biologists that 24 hour surveillance be used to monitor turbines so the mortality impact from wind turbines could be better understood. This important suggestion went directly against the wind industry's "don't get caught" philosophy and to this day it has not happened. This is also the reason why honest cumulative impact studies have never been conducted.


COVETOUS: Marked by inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or for another's possessions. Having a craving for possession of power. GREEDY, ACQUISITIVE, GRASPING, AVARICIOUS:
Avaricious mean having or showing a strong desire for material possessions. Covetous implies inordinate desire often for another's possessions. Greedy stresses lack of restraint and often of discrimination in desire. Acquisitive implies both eagerness to posses and ability to acquire and keep. Grasping adds to Covetous and Greedy an implication of selfishness and often suggests unfair or ruthless means. Avaricious implies obsessive acquisitiveness esp. of money and strongly suggests stinginess.
Welcome to the world of Industrial Wind. Communities and animals need not apply.