By Miriam Raftery, videos by Jim Pelley
December 9, 2012 (Ocotillo) –Ocotillo Express Wind, built on 12,500 acres of public, formerly protected federal Bureau of Land Management property, is now filled by dozens of towering wind turbines. Each massive turbine flashes red lights all night long. During the day, long blade shadows whirl across the desert sands, so there is no time when beleaguered Ocotillo residents or campers may escape the industrial impacts.
“Prior to this wind project going on line, I enjoyed sitting on my front porch and star gazing at the beautiful quiet, peaceful sky at night,” said Jim Pelley, Ocotillo resident and award-winning ECM photojournalist. “Now this is all a thing of the past, I now have bright red lights flashing in my face which I can also see inside my house which are very annoying and totally unacceptable.”
The shadow flicker has a disquieting impact as well, casting vast moving shadows as three blades on each turbine rotates slowly, hundreds of feet in the air. Ultimately the project will include more than 100 turbines, most taller than the highest skyscraper in downtown San Diego.
Pelley says blades have been scarcely moving and that wind speed measurements atop a wind testing tower have shown minimal wind speeds thus far. He is skeptical that the project will product the wind power claimed by its developer, Pattern Energy.
“I can’t image anyone wanting to camp here anymore. This area was a breathtaking place to camp surrounded by beautiful mountains, peaceful desert and wildlife,” Pelley observed, adding darkly, “Thanks, Pattern Energy, for destroying our desert for this senseless project.”