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

Another California Wind Energy Project Canceled

Granite Mountains | Photo: Basin and Range Watch

Yet another proposed wind project in the Mojave Desert has been dropped. The 84-megawatt proposed Granite Wind LLC Wind Energy Project between Barstow and Lucerne Valley has been withdrawn by its developer, and the project's likely effect on the local eagle population is a big reason.

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According to Mickey Quillman at Bureau of Land Management's Barstow field office, a letter from developer RES formally withdrawing the project should reach his office next week, at which point the BLM will start doing the paperwork necessary to close the books on the proposal for good.

In the works for over a decade, the Granite Mountains project would have placed up to 28 wind turbines on 2,756 acres in the small mountain range between State Route 247 and Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County. Under a power purchase agreement signed in 2007, the project would have sold up to 84 megawatts of power to Southern California Edison (SCE).

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Map of the project (click for larger version) | Image via BLM

Among other obstacles, including pitched opposition from residents in nearby Lucerne Valley, the project faltered when it was determined that the Granite Mountains were favored nesting habitat for golden eagles. despite being fast-tracked by the Interior Department in 2010, the project was put on hold due to fears the turbines would devastate the local eagle population.

RES had been an outspoken voice challenging agency science on wildlife and wind, as witness this August 2012 letter from RES development manager James Riven opposing the designation of the Granite Mountains as a biologically important area in a draft of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.

Had it not been for those pesky protected eagles, Granite Wind may well have been delivering power already: original plans were for the facility to start delivering power to SCE in mid-2013.

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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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