Category Archives: Destruction from turbines

Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility: Wrong from the start

ocotillo nightThe Lesson: This project was a disaster from the beginning. Speed and greed are a recipe for environmental, economic, and social failures. Applications for future wind developments must learn from this experience and be much, much more diligent and responsible in their planning and execution.

Desert Report March 2017 – Parke and Linda Ewing

The Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility (OWEF)1 is an utility scale project placed on 12,436 acres near Ocotillo, California, of which 10,151 acres are public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Let’s not forget the towns of Ocotillo and NoMirage. Not huge towns, but home to 266 residents who chose the solitude, the quietness, and the beauty of the ever-changing seasons. Much of this beauty, along with the ecosystem, has been sacrificed.

This wind energy facility now consists of 112 Siemens 2.3-108 MW Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT), which means each IWT was rated to produce 2.3 Megawatts (MW), and the blade swept area is 108 meters in diameter (354.331’). At a later date, the rating was increased to 2.7 MW per tower, very likely to meet the minimum installed capacity required by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) if San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is to meet their mandated renewable energy requirements.

The nacelle, which houses moving and support components such as the gearbox, generator, and main shaft, sits on top of a round tapered steel tower 80m (262.467’) above the ground. The 173’ long blades are held in place at a hub which is attached to the end of the nacelle. The total height of the wind turbine when a blade is in the 12 o’clock position is about 438’. The base of the tower is 15’ in diameter and houses the inverter and control equipment. Two cooling fans are placed outside of the base under the entry stairway, and the transformer is placed on the ground next to the base. More data can be found at Wikipedia2 and at the Siemens’ link3. All these links are posted in the “Notes” section online at http://www.desertreport.org.

ocotilloPublic Involvement

How did this happen? Initially, when we first heard about this project, we were told by Pattern Energy officials and by project documentation that we, the residents, would not be impacted by the turbine facility because it would be located five miles away from the Ocotillo Community. Five miles? That’s an acceptable distance. My wife and I now have turbines that reside one-half a mile from our house and with most less than one mile from the community on all sides.

There were so many maps presented during the different meetings with the various Imperial County departments that confusion ran rampant when someone asked which map represented the location of the turbines for this project. During a scoping meeting, a meeting designed to gain input from every single entity, person, department, or facility that may be impacted by this project, the residents were not allowed to speak. Instead, we were instructed to write our questions on a post card, and they would be addressed at a later time. When?

Ground Disturbances

Now let’s talk about the turbine access roads. Initial discussions and documentation indicated that these roads would be thirty-six feet wide and then narrowed to sixteen feet once the project was complete. In addition there would be an additional fifteen feet on either one side or both sides for the electrical collection lines from each turbine. Some roads ended up being up to 113 feet wide. The disturbance caused to Native American sites and to wildlife has been recorded many times4.5.

Many homeowners have felt the need to purchase flood insurance, in the middle of the desert. Residents feel that Pattern Energy was allowed to change the drainage patterns that will affect the alluvial fans, causing flooding by diversion of rain runoff. Construction of forty-two miles of access roads and an additional eighty-two miles of collection lines has stripped the water absorbing desert crust, creating the potential for flooding in areas that have been safe in past years.

Initial Wind Estimates

The next indiscretion that made itself Somewhere on this map is a community now surrounded by industrial project. known were the wind values. The wind values were incorrectly stated – records were from the Desert View Tower located ten miles up the Interstate Highway grade from Ocotillo and approximately another 2500 feet higher than the desert valley where the project is located. How were they allowed to use those numbers? Three years of data have shown that these turbines are not generating the power that was projected.

Production Shortfall

During the permitting process, differing estimate were given for the energy production of the facility depending upon who made the estimate and for whom they were intended. Ultimately Patten Energy stated that the OWEF would have a capacity factor of 34% (meaning that over time it would produce 34% of its maximum rated output at full sunlight) and that it would produce 2673 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy in its first three years. In fact, the actual capacity factor during this period was 21%, and the total energy produced was 1438 GWh, far below the projected figures. This was in spite of receiving $115,890,946 dollars from the Department of Energy’s 1603 Cash Grant Program6 in lieu of the Production Tax Credits and $110,000,000 from the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission7.

During the BLM scoping period for the project, many comments were submitted. The majority of these were in opposition to the OWEF. Comments that favored the facility were mostly based on the jobs and economic benefits that the facility would provide. A small minority of the comments favored the facility because of the sustainable renewable energy benefits. Those claims were based on the “Installed Capacity,” which is the maximum power which the facility can generate at full daytime sunlight, and an expected capacity factor of 34%. Ocotillo Wind, as stated previously, has fallen far short of predictions.

Current electricity generation for the residents of California relies on a mix of energy production technologies including: coal (7.7%), natural gas (41.9%), nuclear (13.9%), other renewables (13.7%), hydroelectric (10.8%), and others (12.0%). Based on nearly 204,000 GWh of net power generation in California in 2010, the average annual production of 479 GWh by the Ocotillo facility represents only 0.2 percent of California’s total. It is reasonable to wonder if the negative consequences of the project can be justified by this small contribution.

Mechanical failures

The OWEF has been plagued by mechanical problems. On May 16, 2013, a 173’ long wind turbine blade was thrown off of Turbine 156. The cause was determined to be a fiberglass root segment curing problem. Ten wind turbine blades were ultimately replaced at Ocotillo Wind. Many people familiar with the facility believe that the blade problem was due to the “fast tracking” of the facility to enable Ocotillo Express LLC to complete the project by the end of 2012, so they could qualify for the 1603 Cash Grant offered by the Department of Energy.

On January 15, 2015, Turbine 110 had a major fire. The cause of the fire was never revealed. The entire turbine was eventually replaced. The turbine did not generate power for nine months.

On November 21, 2016, Turbine 126 collapsed entirely. It was later confirmed to have been caused by a turbine blade striking the side of the tower. According to the Ocotillo Wind website, a shear stiffener inside of the blade was found to have failed. The Ocotillo Wind website8 stated that the turbine actually collapsed “in the Designated Safe Zone.” There are easily twelve wind turbine sites where BLM designated trails fall within that so-called designated safe zone. Potentially, a person could be killed under any of the Ocotillo Wind Turbines since the entire area is open to
the public.

The OWEF has been plagued with oil leaks. The residents of Ocotillo have counted over seventy turbines with oil leaks at towers and countless hydraulic oil leaks on the blades, many of them considered to be significant by the Imperial County Environmental Task Force. Additionally failures of yaw drives (which orient the blades into the wind) have caused problems. Eight gearboxes have been replaced since the facility became 100% operational along with hundreds of yaw drives.

ocitillo 1013925_544090075648796_475568349_n1Visual Blight

The bright red blinking lights of Ocotillo Wind are required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and can be seen from the southern portion of the Salton Sea, over seventy miles away. Nobody lives in the desert to view wind turbine lights blinking in unison all night long. Pattern Energy promised the community a lighting control system which would be radar activated only when aircraft were present. The Laufer System9 was approved by the FAA in January of 2016. Pattern constructed the whole first phase of Ocotillo Wind consisting of ninety-four turbines in a record 6 1/2 months, but it has been over a year, and the very irritating red lights still shine.

Death in the Airocitillo-1-1038x576.png

Many birds have been struck by the wind turbine blades, and bats lungs have exploded as they fly near the turbines. A carcass survey between 10/05/14 and 09/22/15, obtained by a FOIA request, indicated that sixty-nine birds and bats were found on the agreed upon survey sites, under or near the wind turbines. Every wind turbine site on the facility was not searched every day. We can assume that scavengers consumed many of the carcasses prior to the survey. Bird kills don’t appear to be a huge problem in Ocotillo, but we all hate the killing of any wildlife.

The once numerous Red Tailed Hawks have disappeared. Were they killed by spinning wind turbine blades? There were once so many jackrabbits that it was overwhelming. Now there are no jackrabbits, and the coyotes have also disappeared completely. The last time we saw one, it was skinny and sickly looking, almost certainly for lack of food. The ecosystem is gone.

The Lesson

This project was a disaster from the beginning. Speed and greed are a recipe for environmental, economic, and social failures. Applications for future wind developments must learn from this experience and be much, much more diligent and responsible in their planning and execution.

Desert Report Spring 2017:

Tree Cutting Penalty. A Licence to Kill?

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Site of unauthorized clear cutting that occurred during construction of Cedar Wind. Lambton County, Ontario

Taking down trees even those under provincial protection is occurring in multiple wind projects and punitive fines are less than a tap on the wrist for offenders.  Cedar Wind construction removed trees and the cost was a mere pittance.

Niagara Wind destroyed well over 7 000 trees including individual trees  estimated to be centuries old including tree species at risk.

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Old growth tree one of many removed for Niagara Wind. West Lincoln, Ontario

Presentation on trees removed  at Niagara Wind:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1widGvicaK-VA1XXB4xC1OBtMlWopYG281sa94LKdktY/edit#slide=id.p3

WPD Wild Turkey Road
Clear cutting for wind development on ecological sensitive and protected Oak Ridges Moraines (head waters location supplying greater Toronto area)

 

Lambton landowner handed $6,000 fine in high- profile woodlot clearing case

By: Barbara Simpson  Sarnia Observer  Published: February 15, 2017

If trees are illegally cut in a woodlot and a fine of a few thousand dollars is handed out, is that enough to deter a landowner from clear-cutting again?

That’s the question several Lambton County politicians are raising after learning the details of the penalty the county leveled at a landowner for removing more trees than permitted during the construction of a Cedar Point wind turbine in 2015.

The high-profile case of clear-cutting – which involved an acre of trees in Lambton Shores – resulted in a fine of $6,000 for the private landowner. That amount was paid in full to the county in early 2016.

While mistakes are bound to happen, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said Wednesday the dollar amount of the penalty was not “punitive.”

“In James Bond, they say it’s a licence to kill. This is a licence to cut.”

READ AT: http://www.theobserver.ca/2017/02/15/lambton-landowner-handed-6000-fine-in-high-profile-woodlot-clearing-case

Wind Turbine Bird & Bat Mortality Reports, with Summary- Ontario, Canada

Posted on 01/24/2017 by

Below is a summary Maureen kindly assembled from all of the reports retrieved through the FOI. Have a good hard look at the numbers per project. Individually, these projects have got off scot free – they have never been challenged, never been questioned, never been charged, or even slapped on the wrist for these astounding kills. Dan tallied the actual raptor deaths on the right hand side, as many raptor deaths were ignored as “incidental” – not killed at the right time/place…more on that later. There is much more to glean from these reports – please share what you gather. This is a draft that will be added to and amended as we go.

Click here to download and view in full screen

Follow link to see all of bird and bat kill reports: http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/2017/01/24/wind-turbine-bird-bat-mortality-reports-with-summary-ontario-canada/

 

Cape Breton wind turbine snaps in half

cape-breton-turbine-collapse-2016Nova Scotia Power and wind turbine maker Vestas trying to determine cause

By Anjuli Patil, CBC News

Nova Scotia Power is investigating why one of its wind turbines snapped in half Tuesday night in Grand Étang, Cape Breton.

There was a severe wind warning Tuesday night, but it’s unclear if that had anything to do with the break. The power utility said it is still trying to determine the root cause.

CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell said peak wind gusts of 164 km/h were reported at the Grand Étang weather station between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. this morning.

Nova Scotia Power said no one was at the site at the time and no one was injured.

The 50-metre tall wind turbine was made by Denmark-based Vestas.

It was built in 2002 and was one of the first in Nova Scotia with a single 660-kilowatt Vestas turbine.

Nova Scotia Power said the model is the only one of its kind in the province.

READ AT: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/grand-etang-wind-turbine-snaps-1.3921256

Wind Deaths Deplorable

birds-and-turbines-1

Regarding the article Raptor kills exceeded by wind project (Dec. 16), so there are specific numbers of deaths of birds, bats and raptors that constitute “acceptable” losses? Collateral damage? Just a cost of doing business in pursuit of green energy? Cripes!

Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change? What a sick, oxymoronic joke that is. Are these flying creatures not part of the environment, and therefore worthy of protection? Almost everything this careless government does now shocks and saddens me, but none of it surprises me because I have come to expect the worst of people presently in positions of authority.

Dave Plumb

Published -Letters to the editor: Dec. 19  The London Free Press: http://www.lfpress.com/2016/12/18/letters-to-the-editor-dec-19

Bird & Bat Mortality Reports-Ontario Wind Projects: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B24A4SH_cewXV0VhTENxTGp3LVk

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Red Tail Hawk Killed at a Haldimand Wind project

WLGWAG Public Meeting 2016

“This is a community that has said enough is enough,” said Mike Jankowski. Chair WLGWAG

MPP hears of health concerns, excessive tree removal and a new machine to monitor noise

Grimsby Lincoln News December 8,2016

SMITHVILLE—Sam Oosterhoff isn’t an expert on windmills, but the newly elected MPP, did have one thing in common with the members of the West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group — they both wanted to decrease hydro rates.

Oosterhoff, whose election platform centered on the cost of hydro, connected with the group in their mutual concern about the production of energy in Ontario.

He attended the group’s annual general meeting where he heard about their efforts over the past year and the current state of wind energy in the wake of the Liberal government halting green energy plans.

“Even though the demand for hydro has gone down, our supplies have increased and our costs have increased,” Oosterhoff said to the crowd from inside the Covenant Christian School in Smithville. “We need to be seeing what we can do to make sure it’s competitive across the board.”

Oosterhoff encouraged the crowd to come forward with ideas to tackle the hydro issue and to join the PC Party.

“This is a community that has said enough is enough,” said Mike Jankowski, director of the group.
Speakers at the event reiterated their concerns about the turbines, about the proximity to homes and the physical effect it may have on people. They spoke about the removal of thousands of trees in the area to make way for transmission lines; trees that they say were promised but never replaced.

They also spoke about the overproduction of electricity in the province and the unnecessary amount of debt being incurred by green energy projects such as those in Smithville, Wainfleet and across the province.

The group has now aligned with Wind Concerns Ontario and have purchased equipment that they hope will prove that wind turbines are affecting their health.

 “We have purchased a noise monitoring system,” said Jankowski.

The system, he said, aligns with the Ministry of Environment and Climate change’s monitoring standards.

He hopes that by monitoring the low level noise that is undetected by the human ear they can lay some sort of foundation for government research on the effects of placing wind turbines close to residential dwellings.

Some members of the audience at the meeting spoke of an inability to sleep, a ringing in their heads and a general sense of discomfort since the turbines have went up.

“My goal when I started was, let’s at least erase any doubt as whether or not wind turbine emissions are inside people’s homes,” said Jankowski, who says so far they are picking up noise emissions in nearby homes.

West Lincoln Councilor Joann Chechalk was also present and said she were there to listen.

“I’m very much listening with an open mind,” said Chechalk explaining that she has heard much of the information before.

“The province holds the collar on understanding what that machine is recording; it’s the province that’s going to have to determine whether or not that machine is capturing the information the way that they want it captured.”

READ HERE: http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/7007936-oosterhoff-talks-hydro-rates-with-anti-wind-power-group/

Raptors are being Slaughtered By Wind Turbines in Ontario

turkey-vulture-a
“The infection in her eye had also abated, but she had likely suffered some permanent loss of vision.”

“A volunteer had found an injured turkey vulture beneath a wind turbine and brought her to Salthaven where triage revealed she was suffering from head trauma. She didn’t have any lacerations or bone fractures (injuries commonly sustained by birds that have collided with turbines), but one of her eyes was badly infected…”

By Jenna Hunnef   Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 5:40:53 EST PM 

Special to Londoner

The North American turkey vulture isn’t accorded the same dignified status as its fellow raptors, such as the eagle, hawk, or falcon. Instead, it has traditionally been feared as an omen of death or reviled as a scavenging scoundrel. But we tend to think a little differently here at Salthaven.

The turkey vulture possesses many characteristics that distinguish it from other birds of prey, making it an adept custodian of the natural world. Like hawks, falcons, eagles, and ospreys, turkey vultures possess an acute sense of vision, but they are doubly gifted in the avian world with powerful olfactory senses attuned to certain odours—a rarity among North American birds. The gregariousness of turkey vultures is another key feature that distinguishes them from their raptor kin. Outside of breeding season, it is common to see them congregated in large flocks (“kettles”), which can consist of hundreds of individuals….”

READ AT: http://www.thelondoner.ca/2016/11/22/salthavens-patient-of-the-week-if-at-first-you-dont-succeed

Ocotillo Wind Turbine 126 Collapse

November 21, 2016  turbine 126 suffered a catastrophic structural collapse as documented in photos shared on Facebook. Ocotillo Wind Energy consists of 112- 2.37 MW Siemens  wind turbines. The project was built on California public lands by Pattern Energy and began commercial operations in 2013.  It is now 3 years and the project continues to demonstrate ongoing structural and operational issues for this ill conceived facility.

The project responded with the following statement:

“Ocotillo Wind

On November 21, 2016, one of the turbines at the Ocotillo Wind facility fell within the designated setback zone surrounding the turbine’s base. No one was injured in the incident. We are working closely with the turbine manufacturer, Siemens, to identify the root cause of the failure and a full investigation is currently underway. Relevant authorities have also been notified.

Our first priority is the safety of our employees, contractors, neighbors and the environment. We are taking this issue very seriously and will communicate more information as it becomes available.

Pattern Energy is proud to be part of the Imperial Valley. Our Ocotillo Wind facility is an investment in the region that is creating many economic benefits, including jobs and substantial growth in the property tax base.

The facility supports local initiatives through the Ocotillo Wind Community Benefits Program, which established the Ocotillo Wind Community Fund, Ocotillo Wind Education Fund and Ocotillo Wind Imperial Valley Fund, and is administered by the Imperial Valley Community Foundation. Sign up here to receive updates about the community benefits program and facility news.

Pattern Energy is focused on being a responsible community partner by respecting the land, its resources and the people of the Imperial Valley. The Ocotillo Wind facility is located on public lands administered by the BLM, with a small portion on lands under the jurisdiction of Imperial County. The permanent footprint is approximately 120 acres, which is less than 1% of the total project area, allowing the overwhelming majority of the project land to be preserved in its natural state and allowing the project infrastructure to be sited in areas that do not directly impact cultural resources.”

READ AT: http://www.ocotillowind.com/

It’s not a migration it’s an obstacle course

not-a-migration

The work of cartoonist Adrian Raeside illustrates some of the cumulative harmful impacts from human activities to migrating avian species that use the global flyways.  Habitat loss, avoidance and mortalities are direct adverse impacts arising from the installation of wind power generating facilities.  Killing the natural world one spin at a time.

Enjoy his work at:

https://www.creators.com/read/the-other-coast/11/16/188957

 

Eagle Kills & Wind Projects

“How do you report that birds are taken, are you counting them, and are they reporting them?” Kasperik asked.

“The short answer is, no,” Abbott said.

“Pretty much with all the projects out there, unless the company that is running that operation is going out there and conducting surveys of their own, there are no data being collected in terms of the number of migratory birds being taken.”

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Doug Bell of the East Bay Regional Park District, in a 2007 photo with a golden eagle found near turbines in California’s Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area. The raptor, which had a compound wing fracture, later was euthanized. Janice Gan/Courtesy East Bay Regional Park District

Eagle Take Permit Considered at Hearing

A new federal regulation that would give the wind industry 30-year permits for unintentional eagle deaths was the topic of a recent legislative committee hearing in Casper.

The issue centers on a 2013 U.S. Fish and Wildlife decision that increased the length of eagle take permits from the current five years to 30, but only for wind energy projects and related infrastructure, such as transmission facilities.

A federal judge in California struck down the rule in 2014, shortly after it was issued, after conservation groups challenged it on environmental grounds. This past February the federal government decided it was not going to appeal the court’s decision.

Tyler Abbott, a deputy field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wyoming Ecological Services, told the Select Federal Natural Resources Management Committee that a new rule was emerging as a result of those actions.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service … is in the process of developing some definitions, some draft regulations and an environmental impact statement that could potentially lead to the authorization of an incidental take permit in the future, but right now it’s in development, and it’s not active legally,” Abbott said.

The proposed new rule would continue to allow 30-year permits for wind energy, but it now also includes a review every five years, bringing it somewhat in line with present permit length. The rule also has stipulations that companies seeking eagle take permits work collaboratively with Fish and Wildlife on a bird protection plan.

READ MORE:  http://casperjournal.com/news/local/casper/article_6c745815-e428-56e1-a79d-7c8883380802.html