Jan 29

The Antelope Valley and Alternative Energy: A Tale of Two Counties

Posted on Jan 29, 2012 under Uncategorized | Comments are off

enXco’s Pacific Wind energy project: Kern County approved


The line separating Los Angeles County from Kern County runs directly through the middle of California’s Antelope valley, surrounded by the Tehachapi mountains to the north, and the San Gabriels to the south. On the front page of last Wednesday’s Antelope Valley Press, the newspaper reported that a decision by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors sends a signal that construction of wind turbines may be banned on southern hillsides of the valley. Thousands of the turbines, however, will occupy the valley’s northern slopes in Kern County. These wind turbines stretch from the existing wind farms near Tehachapi all the way to enXco’s new project, Pacific Wind, located about 6 miles north of AV Solar Ranch One. Construction on Pacific Wind, a 140 MW project, began in October, 2011. (Note: AV Solar Ranch One was the L.A. County project I discussed in my January 2nd post, AV Solar Ranch One: Solar on Steroids?)

enXco Pacific Wind Project

Pacific Wind, a 140 MW project under construction

Perhaps to many, these wind turbines look like small structures, but to get a sense of the scale of these things, check out the photo below of a truck hauling the lower section of a tower into the construction site.

Pacific Wind: a lower section of wind turbine tower in transit

It seems my views in opposition to wind turbines, as expressed in my January 2nd post, are being echoed by other residents of the valley. As I stated at the beginning of January, (Solar Ranch One’s operator) “First Solar claims that they ‘will utilize low-profile solar panels to preserve scenic vistas,’ which is one-heck-of-lot better than wind energy companies can proclaim, with their towering wind turbines defacing entire mountainsides!” According to the Antelope Valley Press article, residents have expressed concerns about “potentially negative environmental impacts the projects will have on wildlife and plant life in the area, as well as the effect on the rural landscape.”

Apparently, all the fuss has resulted in the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ decision. Specifically, they have denied applications to construct a series of 200-foot-tall meteorological data collection towers, required for project studies. Two energy companies are affected by the decision: NextEra Energy Resources, and Element Power. NextEra’s project involves wind turbines, while Element Power’s plan encompasses both wind and solar, leading to speculation that the company may resubmit its proposal, presumably with new emphasis on the solar option.

As I’ve said before, my biggest objection to large solar and wind energy projects is the huge tracts of land they spoil. I prefer a decentralized approach to electric power generation, where south-facing rooftops are utilized for their sun exposure. Or perhaps, in rural settings, a few privately owned wind turbines scattered here-and-there. Of course, at My Solar Backup Depot we are big proponents of solar backup systems, and curtailing home owners’ heavy dependence the electric grid, nationwide.

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