Ocotillo Express Wind Project - Updates

No Wind, Night Lights, Tribal Lawsuit, Construction Report by Terry Weiner

No Wind

January 27, 2013 - The Ocotillo Express Wind project has been online for more than two months now, and very little electricity has been generated. Most days have no or little wind. Local residents have carefully measured wind speeds and filmed the wind project (and its lack of turning blades).

SaveOcotillo on YouTube says: "Why did Pattern Energy only use 7,700 hours of wind speed data to qualify this project when they had over 26,000 hours of wind speed data? The wind speeds in Ocotillo are class 2 - class 3 wind speeds which are considered to be poor to marginal for a industrial scale wind project according to the Department of Energy. Could it be that if the energy company submitted the full 26,000+ hours of wind speed data the project would not have qualified?"

See the Ocotillo Wind Turbine Destruction page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OcotilloWindTurbineDestruction

Desert Night Sky Ruined

^Night lights with advanced camera settings, long exposure (notice some turbines blades show some movement) and different aperture settings, was pretty much dark outside. (Photos by Jim Pelley)

^These night lights on wind turbine generators destroy the dark night sky along the southern border of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and take away the wild desert views in the area.

Tribal Opposition

It is disappointing to read that the Bureau of Land Management tried to claim that cultural resources receive little consideration in the California Desert Conservation Area. We need to remind the Interior Department that public lands do not just serve energy developers.

“The BLM lawyer maintained that the law doesn’t require that , adding that “This idea that class L land provides special protection for cultural resources” is incorrect.

See the East County Magazine.

December 2012 Site Visit

Photos by Terry Weiner of the Desert Protective Council.

^SDG&E Switcher Yard. It is amazing the amount of dirt they have moved and the size of the piles of dirt.

^Hole under the straw berm made by water flowing under it.

^What will be the permanent maintenance yard

^This photo shows what the ground looks like after a road has been bladed and traveled over many times with untold gallons of water poured onto it. If it rained at the time of this photo, a lot of petroleum products would flow across the desert.

^Remnants of an Ocotillo.

^Tower that is mitigation for bird mortality. A biologist will observe the skies from this tower during wind project operation to scan for eagles. If an eagle is seen, the biologist will tell the operator to curtail wind turbine generator spinning. But since this takes a minute at least to turn a turbine off, this is a theoretical approach at best.

^Desert shrub destroyed during construction.

^Close up of the boxes on the trailers. Most of the turbines have these boxes somewhere around their bases.

Report by Terry Weiner:

Sunday December 2nd was sunny, clear and balmy with a light sweet breeze. I had not been on the site of the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility for two weeks. From Interstate 8 to which the project site is adjacent, I could clearly see the 450 ft tall turbines the from Dunaway Rd exit, about 10 miles east of the project. The turbines are visible from highway 8 westbound from as far away as Mountain Springs Rd 3,000 feet above the project site. The views from the Jacumba Wilderness, McCain Valley, from the Coyote Mountains wilderness and from the Indian Hill/Mortero Wash Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are forever altered. The vast vista of desert lowlands and mountains has been transformed into a broad plain of white pillars with huge curved white blades. After dark, the turbines flash brightly in the formerly unlit desert sky. http://youtu.be/yKUxX-Pkwu8.

IBLM route 118 used to be a sandy narrow ORV route heading toward the foothills of the Jacumbas. It is now about 30 feet wide and hard-packed. Formerly only the Southwest Power line traversed the Ocotillo Desert and now the 500 Kv Sunrise Powerlink (SWPL) transmission line buzzes and crackles overhead alongside the SWPL. I parked under the tall latticework towers and hiked northwesterly past the seemingly ever-expanding SDG&E switcher station, which occupies more than thirty acres. I picked up dozens of various sized sheets of styro-plastic wrapping, the type of wrapping used to wrap machinery during shipping. There was other industrial trash scattered across the desert. Around the switching station and the multiple new roads leading to it, berms of dirt have changed the direction and flow of water all across the site. Millions of gallons of water have been sprayed over the newly carved roads and around each of the eighty turbine pad footprints, creating 100s of new channels for runoff. The run off from each construction site will carry residues of petroleum from the heavy construction equipment which seems to be everywhere. I can’t estimate the number of uprooted ocotillos I came across with blacked roots exposed, nor the number of uprooted smoke trees in washes. In between the dead zones of construction, acres of opuntia, brittlebush and creosote seem to be hanging on but they look forlorn surrounded by flattened desert, cranes, bulldozers, trenchers and Blattner Energy construction 4x4 trucks.

What was most striking on Sunday in contrast to previous visits during the summer and fall, was the relentless noise of construction. I was unable to escape the din. The air will filled with the drone and growl of bulldozers, the beeping of backup signals, the loud purr of generators and within one of the fenced areas, an gruesome, eerie humming of the breeze through the metal of a tall ugly construction platform. If I had been transported to the site blindfolded, I would have imagined I was up along highway 215 in Riverside County on the site of the building of a subdivision- except for the otherworldly humming coming from the tower, which was like something from a sci-fi movie.

As of Thursday July 6th, some of the turbines are turning and some power is supposedly flowing over the Sunrise Powerlink toward San Diego. I will report next week what type of sound comes from the turning turbines.

^Extensive destruction on the outer periphery of the Switcher Station.

^North and east of the switcher station showing more of the widespread destruction.

^The inexplicable raised road bed not seeming to be connected with any other road or construction area.


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