Industrial Impacts to Wildlands

July, 2010 - New utility-scale wind projects are actively being built in California, giving a glimpse of landscape impacts from new roads, foundation pads, trenches for electric cables, and traffic. Many rare plants and native grasses grow in these hills. Renewable energy can be a good idea but 400-foot steel towers will disturb large areas of land.

^Delicate curving awns of the native bunchgrass Nodding needlegrass (Nassella cernua), once abundant all over California's prairies, now dwells in relict areas in these hills.

^Sapphire flower (Eriastrum sp.) was still blooming in summer on the grassy hills.

Wind Project Start: Construction Yard

^Towers in line for trucking up the mountain.

^Electric cables in yard.

^Construction yard and new turbines going up.

^Huge rotor blades lie in the yard.


^Truck traffic entering and leaving the yard along a public road.

New Wide Roads

^Over-sized loads must be carried on trucks into the hills, so dirt roads are made wide.

^This road filled in a creek crossing that had willows, to allow trucks. A drainage pipe was installed...

^...but willows were destroyed in the process.

^New roads all over the hills. Piles of gravel will be used to fill in muddy spots.

^Turbine foundation pad being leveled.

Large Foundation Pads

^Huge tower base lies next to a new pad, awaiting installation.

^Wide roads go to the ridge tops.

^Trencher to lay underground electric cable.

^Electric cable trenched into a ditch to the cement foundation for the turbine.

^Concrete pad.

Laying Electric Lines

^Cables trenched down the hill.

Tower Construction

^Tower section delivered on a flatbed truck.

^Tower section that will be lifted by cranes onto the cement pad.

^Cranes lift the wind turbine components into position.

^One tower has a nacelle attached, containing the gearbox and generator.

Finished Wind Farm

^Small substation to carry the electricity to the gird.

^Broken blade on a wind turbine.


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