News and analysis about renewable energy in California.

Proposed Wind Project Near Joshua Tree National Park Canceled

Looking east toward the Cadiz Valley | Chris Clarke photo

A proposed wind turbine installation that would have covered more than 63,000 acres of the California desert on the eastern edge of Joshua Tree National Park has been canceled by the Bureau of Land Management, ReWire has learned. The project, which would have spanned the Cadiz and Palen valleys in the eastern desert, was canceled during its initial meteorological testing phase due to non-compliance with BLM reporting requirements.

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The as-yet unnamed project, proposed by First Wind's subsidiary Desert Air Renewables, would have begun with nine 197-foot meteorological testing towers ("met towers") placed across a 30-mile swath of desert, including the Palen Pass area, a crucial wildlife connectivity corridor. The met towers would have been used to gauge the potential wind resource in the area. Desert Air Renewables filed its application for a right-of-way for the nine met towers with the BLM in January.

Had the project proceeded, it would have placed wind turbines between Joshua Tree National Park and a number of ecologically important areas, including the Palen-McCoy and Stepladder-Turtle Mountains wilderness areas and the formerly proposed Irone Mountain Solar Energy Zone, which is designated as permanently protected from solar development in the Interior Department's Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement due to the area's ecological value.

The Boston-based First Wind currently operates 875 megawatts of wind production capacity at 15 projects in Maine, New York, Vermont, Utah, and Hawaii and is building the 105-megawatt Palouse Wind facility in northern Whitman County, Washington.

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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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The "non-compliance with BLM reporting requirements" most likely means that this wind farm could not get approval because of the rapidly disappearing golden eagle population in Southern CA. Wind industry studies have kept this hidden, but now the word is out. This also happens to be in the same region where 45 empty eagle nests were found in 2010.

The San Gorgonio wind farm, located not far from Joshua Tree National Park, has been killing birds for decades. A 1986 study conducted at this wind farm showed a death rate of 34.4 per MW from San Gorgonio turbine blades.

In the 1990's wind turbines placed in eagle habitat were shown to be the number cause of mortality in populations. Today the new larger turbines with 35-45 times more rotor sweep kill even more eagles.

The Industry has proclaimed these turbine as being safer with their flawed studies. Bird carcasses were collected from areas 10 times too small around these huge turbines

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