Ocotillo Express Wind

DEADLY FLIGHT IN OCOTILLO HIGHLIGHTS DANGERS TO BIRDS OF PREY FROM WIND TURBINES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 24, 2013 (Ocotilo) – ECM photographer Parke Ewing photographed a troubling series of images on November 22 showing a large raptor winging its way through Pattern Energy's Ocotillo Express Wind Facility, dangerously close to the blades. 

The next day, photographer Jim Pelley found a dead raptor lying on the ground at the site, one leg sliced off, apparently a victim of the turbines. It is unclear whether it is the same raptor photographed on the wing by Ewing.

A news article just published in Rewire Magazine that the new, large wind turbines such as those at Ocotillo are likely responsible for 100,000 bird deaths a year in California.  Moreover, California is the deadliest state in the nation when it comes to bird deaths from wind projects, including many that are protected under the Migratory Species Treaty or the Endangered Species Act.

WILD RIDE: VIDEO INSIDE A FLASH FLOOD AT THE OCOTILLO WIND FACILITY

 

July 24, 2013 (Ocotillo) - In a dramatic video, award-winning videographer Jim Pelley takes a wild ride along a flooding roadway in the heart of the Ocotillo Express Wind Project.  The brief storm, which lasted only an hour, closed Highway 98, also washing rocks and debris across access roads. (Note: video contains strong language as Pelley struggles to escape the rising floodwaters.)

Pelley, an engineer and resident of Ocotillo, has long contended that changes to natural drainage patterns made by the wind project developer, Pattern Energy, would worsen flooding in the region.  Ocotillo is in a federally designated flood plain, but area residents have said that in the past, it took hours of heavy rainfall to cause serious flooding.

WHERE IS THE WIND? ATTORNEY PRESENTS EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST WIND INDUSTRY CLAIMS ARE OVERBLOWN

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 7, 2014 (San Diego)--“How do you beat the national average with below average wind speeds?” Attorney Bill Pate posed that intriguing question at a forum hosted in San Diego recently by Activist San Diego.

Good question. Pattern Energy told the California Public Utilities Commission that it would reach 34% capacity at Ocotillo Express Wind Facility, a  site rated just a class 2, the second lowest federal rating for wind speeds.  The first three months of data for the Ocotillo project show only about a 19% capacity reached.   In the entire U.S., there is only a 22 to 23% net capacity on average.  

So how did the project get approved?

EAGLE KILLED AT PATTERN ENERGY WIND FARM

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 20, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Pattern Energy has claimed that a Merlin Avian Radar system at its Ocotillo Express Wind Facility will detect eagles and allow turbines to be shut down to save them from the whirling blades. Avian radar is also proposed at other wind projects proposed in East County.

But now ECM has learned that an eagle was killed at Pattern’s Spring Valley Wind project near Great Basin National Park in Nevada. According to Bureau of Land Management documents, Pattern had claimed in Appendix F, its Avian and Bat Protection Plan, that it planned to install three separate radar systems at the Spring Valley project to prevent deaths of birds and bats, including both Merlin and Vesper technology. 

Pattern did not respond to an ECM request for comment. The death, along with mounting evidence indicating avian radar is failing to protect birds at wind sites, raises serious concerns over the fate of eagles in our region, where three more wind farms are proposed in San Diego’s East County.

QUAIL BRUSH DEVELOPER SELLS TO THE CARLYLE GROUP

Gas-powered plant is pitched to provide backup for non-windy days at Ocotillo wind project—also owned by Carlyle

By Miriam Raftery

January 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) –Cogentrix has sold a majority of its North American assets, including Quail Brush GENCO (applicant for the Quail Brush power plant near Mission Trails) to subsidiaries of Carlyle Entities, managed by the Carlyle Group.   View letter to  California Energy Commission with details.   

Cogentrix had argued that the Quail Brush gas-fired “peaker” power plant was necessary to meet energy needs when there is now enough wind or sunshine for large-scale wind and solar projects.

Carlyle's 2009 Annual Report confirms that Carlyle also founded Pattern Energy, developer of the Ocotillo Express Wind project, a site that has drawn criticism for minimal wind resources.  But now, if Quail Brush is built, Carlyle stands to profit whether the wind blows or not.

LIGHTS, BLADE SHADOWS DISTURB RESIDENCES IN OCOTILLO AFTER PATTERN ENERGY BRINGS WIND PROJECT ONLINE

By Miriam Raftery, videos by Jim Pelley

View video of shadow flicker.

View video of  flashing lights

View lights as seen through photographer's home windows.

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.

PATTERN ENERGY SECURES FUNDING FOR COMPLETION OF OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND PROJECT

By Miriam Raftery

November 10, 2012 (Ocotillo) – North American Development Bank has announced that it has approved a 20-year, $110 million construction loan for completion of Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Express wind energy facility.  The bank, which is capitalized by both  the U.S. and Mexican governments, funds projects within 62 miles of the international border. 

SDG&E has signed a 20-year purchase agreement for power from the project, which is on track to become the first renewable energy project to tie into the Sunrise Powerlink, bringing electricity from Imperial Valley to San Diego.

BLM RESPONDS TO ECM INQUIRY ON NATIVE AMERICAN REMAINS AT WIND SITES

By Miriam Raftery

July 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – After forensic dog teams identified dozens of potential ancient human remain sites at energy projects on Bureau of Land Management property in Ocotillo and McCain Valley, as ECM reported this week, ECM asked the BLM what steps it intends to take to assure that any Native American remains are protected.

Two officials from the BLM have responded to our inquiry.

WIND STORM: PLANNERS APPROVE OCOTILLO WIND-- IGNORE SERIOUS HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS, COMMUNITY AND TRIBAL CONCERNS

Part IV in our series on the Ocotillo Express Wind project, which would feed electricity into SDG&E's Sunrise Powerlink bound for San Diego.

By Miriam Raftery

“Jobs are temporary but the destruction of our desert is forever. All of this culture and history will be lost…all in the name of greed.” – Linda Ewing, Ocotillo

“This is an economically important project for our community.”—Katie Figari, Chief Executive Officer, Brawley Chamber of Commerce

March 29, 2012 (Ocotillo) – A conditional use permit, height variances and mitigation were approved by an 8-1 vote yesterday at the Imperial Valley Planning Commission meeting.

Planners, wooed by the applicant’s estimate that $150 million in tax revenues will flow into county coffers over the project’s 30-year-life, along with a  projected 350 construction jobs and at most 20 permanent jobs, opted to ignore the very grave concerns voiced by tribal leaders, environmentalists, health workers and many residents. Those concerns include dangerous and destructive potential of the project, as well as federal fast-tracking that has trampled long-held rights of residents and tribes.

WIND STORM: WHISTLEBLOWER ALLEGES GAG ORDER PREVENTED STATE PARK EMPLOYEES FROM REVEALING HARM TO ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK FROM PROPOSED OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND PROJECT

Part II in ECM’s exclusive report on the Ocotillo Express Wind project, a joint investigation with ABC 10 News. (See the 10 News portion of this investigation, a report on environmental impacts of the project here:   10 News text: http://www.10news.com/news/30776233/detail.html; 10 News video: http://www.10news.com/video/30776306/index.html)

“To have the Governor’s office tell our park officials NOT to comment on Ocotillo,  OR ANY OTHER alternative energy projects adjacent to the Park, is a travesty, a violation of the trust between the citizens and the state.” – Mark Jorgensen, retired Superintendent, Anza Borrego Desert State Park in an e-mail to ECM

 “These allegations are not true.   No such directive came from the the Governor’s Office or the California Natural Resources Agency saying that State Parks could not comment on the Ocotillo Wind Express Project. “ -- Richard Stapler, Deputy Secretary for Communications, California Natural Resources Agency

By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2012 (Anza-Borrego) – The former Superintendent of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) has contacted East County Magazine to allege a cover-up by the State Parks Department and the Governor of serious impacts that the proposed Ocotillo Express wind project would have on our largest state park and its natural resources.  The proposed wind project shares a five-mile border with ABSP and if approved, would erect up to 155 wind turbines each 456 feet tall—some just yards from the park.