Categorized | Energy, Local, Politics

Ferndale Says No-Go To Wind Turbine Project

 

Cream City’s Council weighs in with their concerns over use of roads

 

By Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Residents and ranchers alike packed the Ferndale City Hall to voice their increasing disapproval of the Shell Wind Bear River Wind Turbine Project presented by
staff from HSU’s Schatz Energy Lab and Shell’s WindEnergy, Inc.

The fourth such meeting held on the controversial project, Shell WindEnergy had asked the Ferndale City Council not to make any decisions at Thursday’s council meeting. Ferndale City staff, however, had previously recommended the council direct Humboldt County officials to ‘re-scope’ the project, asking for updated information from the various agencies involved due to changes made since January’s 2010 original scoping document.

Ferndale Mayor Jeff Farley asked the public to hold back any applause and address questions and issues directly to the council. After the 4-hour meeting concluded, the Ferndale City Council voted unanimously sending two ‘letters of concern’ to the County: asking County officials to reevaluate the project’s scope, and opposing the transport of turbine equipment through Ferndale’s streets.

The council, Farley said, wants the County to take another look at the project’s impact on noise, traffic, air quality, and property values, and to obtain a more detailed evaluation of the costs of decommissioning the wind farm. Farley claims Ferndale hasn’t received answers to these questions, especially how the city will be adversely affected by the large concrete, dump, and water trucks, cranes and other vehicles transporting heavy equipment through the streets of Ferndale to the project’s site on Bear Ridge, 6 miles south of town. Shell representatives visiting the council earlier provided updated information including the potential option of using helicopters to bring in components.

The Ferndale City Council ultimately decided not to oppose the wind turbine project altogether until it reviews the information contained in the environmental impact report to be released this spring.

The Times-Standard quoted Mayor Farley summing up the city councils’ recommendation this way: “We said, ‘no, we’re not going to do that’ because the EIR isn’t out yet and we want more information. At this point, we’re not getting the answers as fast as we want. This isn’t their first rodeo for wind turbines.

Ferndale City Manager Jay Parrish said most of the council’s concerns involve the impact of transportation, but the city is open to hearing about alternatives.  “I think the council in general approves of alternative energy systems, but when it’s in your backyard, you need to look at it real close,” Parrish said.

Shell WindEnergy Response

Pana Ratana, Business Development Advisor for Shell WindEnergy, said that “the company understands the community’s concerns and the council’s wishes to have more information, (but) it’s simply too early for the council to take a position opposing any of the project’s components,” according to the Times-Standard.

We are disappointed that the city of Ferndale has decided to take any position on the transportation plan at this time. The city council is making a premature decision based largely on incomplete information. We will continue with our plans to host an open house in the spring to provide the latest information and updates,” Ratana said.

The Proposed Project, Plans and Merits

Shell WindEnergy’s project proposes installing approximately 25 wind turbines on private property along Bear River Ridge above Ferndale and Rio Dell, producing 50-75 megawatts of generation capacity– enough renewable electricity to power over 18,000 homes. The project’s boosters claim the wind farm will bring in millions of investment dollars from Shell Wind over the next 20 years, plus 120 full time employees during construction and six to 12 full time employees to maintain the wind farm.

The project’s equipment would be barged into Humboldt Bay, unloaded at a yet-to-be determined offloading site, and trucked down Highway 101. According to the North Coast Journal article by Keith Easthouse, Shell has analyzed five different routes: three going through or near Ferndale, and two going out of Rio Dell. All have their inherent problems. Helicoptering of components to the site is a possible option—but only in part.

It’s expected that large trucks would make 850 trips to deliver components and another 2,500 trucks would be needed for construction. 3 million gallons of water would be needed. Construction vehicles would make 60 round trips daily through Ferndale, as proposed. Five miles of new road would be built for use during construction, along with three weather towers, a power-collection system, a substation and 12 miles of new power lines. The turbine blades are 150 feet long, the towers rising nearly 260 feet tall, and each of the 3 tower pieces, shipped separately, run 85 feet in length. The housing generators at the top of the towers, called nacelles, weigh 40 tons apiece—and would be undeliverable by helicopter due to their immense weight.

Humboldt County Senior Planner John Miller said the County wants Shell to do a more detailed analysis of how the turbine components will be transported to the ridge before completing the draft environmental impact report. “The trucks are fairly long, so they need to narrow down what roads need to be improved,” he said, adding that Pacific Gas and Electric is also involved working on how power will get to the regional grid.

Blight, Environment, and Energy Concerns

Some critics of the project, including residents of Ferndale, believe the project will do nothing to enhance energy availability for Ferndale citizens– and that the presence of windmills will blight the landscape.

Then there are the environmental concerns. According to the Northcoast Environmental Center article by Sarah O’Leary, while the wind turbine generators would produce electrical power with less carbon impact on the atmosphere than fossil fuels, the blades could harm imperiled species, including bats, migrating birds, spotted owls and commuting marbled murrelets.

Jim Zoellick

Jim Zoellick

Just how much renewable energy will be generated by this project and where will it be delivered is another matter to be considered.  Jim Zoellick of HSU’s Schatz Energy Center said that the answer is far more complicated than turbines simply generating power for 18,000 homes.  “The power generated locally would go into the local grid,” Zoellick said, adding that a complicated accounting process allows different entities to actually receive the credit for the renewable energy.

Zoellick gave the example of the new Blue Lake Biomass Plant, which sells its power to San Diego Gas & Electric. The power is not actually shipped to San Diego, he explained, but that company receives credit to help it meet state requirements for renewable energy generation. Zoellick said that if energy generated by renewable sources – such as wind projects, biomass and even wave energy – should exceed Humboldt County’s needs then the first plant to have output turned down would be PG&E. He noted that climate change is the biggest environmental threat of all. “More than anything, we need energy efficiency and conservation. There are no easy answers and no choices that have no impacts,” Zoellick said.

Shell WindEnergy will finish studying the transportation issues raised by the Ferndale city council and determine whether to proceed with the Bear River Turbine Project—with or without Ferndale’s approval– in the last half of 2012. The project, if given the green light and not hitting further roadblocks, could possibly be finished by 2014 depending how cooperative Ferndale’s residents and city council are in warming up to Shell’s proposed plans of allowing transportation through their town.

They admit, however, that the wind project’s approval ultimately lies within the County’s larger sphere of influence and jurisdiction– and not necessarily the little Victorian village itself.

We’ve been doing fine since 1854 without Shell,” Ferndale Councilman Ken Mierzwa noted during Thursday’s city council session, voicing his disapproval.

(The Times-Standard, Humboldt Beacon, Ferndale Enterprise, Northcoast Environmental Center, the North Coast Journal, National Wind Watch, Humboldt County Community Services Department and the Humboldt Herald contributed to this report)

*********

Comments from around the local web:

“The wind technology can’t pay for itself. The turbines are subsidized by the government green scam dollars. A natural ridge line will be forever polluted by these turbines. Bird migration will be hindered too. All for a few mags of power. It is not worth the effort. But some workers will have a job and the manufacturer will reap millions in transferred wealth.”

“The wind farm will benefit its landlords. That’s about it. The county has a brand-new gas fueled plant at King Salmon – and its own supply of gas.”

“While the new power plant supplies much of electrical needs the county has (almost) NO redundancy for our electricity and gas demands. The “all our eggs in one basket” approach to energy use seems both foolish and shortsighted. We live in far too volatile and remote an area to get away with that strategy for long.”

“Aren’t these the same people who shout ‘Drill Baby Drill’ when it comes to oil?”

“Everyone that knows anything about birds knows that wind turbines kill thousands of birds. It takes an especially heavy toll on raptors.”

“Just like Walmart: if the people don’t want it, it shouldn’t be forced on them.”

“I prefer wind turbines on a ridge to oil derricks offshore. The turbines of today don’t pose the same danger to birds as the older ones did and certainly not the level of threat posed by oil spills.”

“So where will the First District Supervisor candidates (Annette De Modena and Rex Bohn) fall on this issue?  This could become a very interesting discussion.”

“Labeling industrial wind-driven Electricity Generation Installations as farms is a bit misleading.  Wind isn’t “farmed.”  Corn is farmed. Wind is harnessed and electricity is generated. These installations are power plants with substations. 1-2% of electricity is created from foreign oil (Search it). And to date, coal plants remain online in order to support wind-driven plants coming online with fluctuating supply (search it).”

“The Ferndale City Council Decision was MONUMENTAL. They actually listened to the people who elected them: the people who will be impacted by this project. Thousands and thousands of vehicle trips, (10,000 plus) during the middle of the summer and tourist season traversing the streets of Ferndale. Streets that have clay infrastructure pipes. And streets that certainly were not built to handle 340,000 lb nacelles being transported upon 13 axle, 72 tire, articulated vehicles that require a 40′ clear span to transport certain parts of this project. There is absolutely no benefit to the town of Ferndale except for the bribes Shell WindEnergy offers under the name of a community investment program. But for the general population there are lots of reasons why the citizens of Ferndale overwhelmingly asked its council to say NO TRANSPORTATION thru Ferndale.”

 

Additional Information about the Bear River Wind Turbine project can be found here:

The Schatz Energy Research Center Turbine Project 3-D Visualization Tool and Tour
The Times-Standard
The National Wind Watch website of archived articles
The Northcoast Environmental Center
The North Coast Journal
The Humboldt Herald
The County of Humboldt Community Services Department website and related links
The BRW Project proposal, Humboldt County Planning Department pdf, 2009
The US Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Report of Proposed EIR and EIS

Hank Sims and the Lost Coast Outpost have an interesting take– and reader’s comments– in their September 21 column, Shell Wind Project: Ferndale Has Plenty of Hot Air

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) striking photograph of Wind Turbines Churning the Air Over the North Sea (credit  and thanks to Ponder z)

7 Responses to “Ferndale Says No-Go To Wind Turbine Project”

  1. Laurence Stancil says:

    This story shows that we can talk about a lot of other things but the two most important issues that need to be addressed first are energy independence and freeing our great nation from foreign entanglements. What is your road condition compared to this? End our overseas adventures and we can buy you 100 new roads.

  2. Dan Tubbs, Jr. says:

    This is not about independance from foreign oil. Wind energy is all about the developers making millions of dollars in taxpayer money in the form of government subsidies. These giant industrial wind machines are a blight on the landscape. The carbon footprint from the building of the turbines to the installation of the towers is huge. The negative impact on the environment is also devastating. If people insist on these wind turbines, they should be in areas where they create a minimal impact on the land.

  3. Perry Dunn says:

    I find it just a little disingenuous that the subtitle under this piece is “Cream City’s Council weighs in with their concerns over use of roads.”

    This slant has a bit of the writer’s spin and, expectedly, then elicits the kind of comment Mr. Stancil made above…and I don’t blame him! If it was just about the roads this would be a silly argument in light of all the other “big picture” issues to consider.

    But this ISN’T just about the “use of roads,” as that subtitle implies. It’s about many more things that will have considerable and irrevocable impact on Ferndale and the surrounding area, including the destruction of wilderness, overwhelming industrialization of rural lands, impact on endangered and other species and a huge carbon footprint that will forever be embedded into the ridge above Ferndale and Loleta. It has to do with concerns about the real, demonstrable efficiency of said turbines (jury still out on that), the continuing reliance on fossil fuels to operate them and concerns about financial machinations that seem a big part of their “popularity,” particularly with Big Oil.

    The relatively short-term inconvenience to the towns impacted could, in fact, be mitigated if all the other concerns, questions and arguments didn’t have a very real place in this debate. But they do. And so wise, ecologically-concerned citizens who don’t necessarily want the natural beauty and irreplaceable wildlife so important to their region to be negatively impacted for an industry that comes with so MANY unanswered questions, are doing exactly what clear-thinking people should do: research, due diligence, ask questions, search online for other examples, watch documentaries on the topic, listen to the pros and cons, then come to their own conclusions. As the people of Ferndale are. They should be applauded for caring enough about the land they live on to ask ask all those question because once those 400′ metal turbines are spinning above, they’re there forever.

    And remember, how many other industries over the years have promised to be “the answer” and then weren’t? How many thousands of acres of now dysfunctional wind turbines are creating blight on our open land all over the country? It’s essential and important to question and research ANY kind of permanent and industrial take-over of rural natural land (especially right above small communities) before allowing such huge changes to be imposed. To do otherwise would be completely irresponsible to the people, the land and the planet all of us are trying to preserve and protect.

  4. Our company have possession of a farm a very breezy part of Costa Rica and located a great corporation that will represent us to get a probable wind farm project. In the event you own acreage that includes a lot of wind year round I would undoubtedly vouch for Green Systems International. Website http://www.gsila.com.

  5. earthlover says:

    Thank you Perry Dunn.

  6. earthlover says:

    Thank you Dan Tubbs.

  7. NIMBY says:

    Say no to wind turbines! Save the planet tomorrow!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply

HumSentinel on Twitter

RSS Progressive Review

  • Bottom 90% worse off than in 1987
    Washington Post - Once upon a time, the American economy worked for everybody, and even the middle class got richer. But this story has only been a fairy tale for almost 30 years now. The new, harsh reality is that the bottom 90 percent of households are poorer today than they were in 1987.This is actually a much more dramatic statement than it sounds. While […]
  • US deporting asylum seekers
    immigration Impact -Human Right Watch  issued a report last week documenting serious flaws in the procedures used to deport noncitizens apprehended at or near the border—flaws that are resulting in the deportation of Central Americans who face serious harm in their home countries. The report is based on interviews of 35 noncitizens detained in the United Sta […]
  • How Watergate almost didn't happen
    Sam Smith - The passing of Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee has brought back memories of the 1972 break-in at the Watergate and, for me, a story I learned about how the incident almost didn't happen. The Washingtonian Magazine reported a few years ago: Across the street in the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge, a “spotter” for the burglars, Alfred C. Baldw […]
  • Word
    Paul (Race Horse) Mitchell, 57, of one address right after another, died on the street here yesterday, unexpectedly, and after a long illness, but mostly from two bullet wounds in his chest... The grief, if it may be allowed to pass for that, was dry-eyed enough but it had those overtones of sincerity which lend a definite, if indefinable, dignity to the hum […]
  • September 11, 2001
     From 50 years of our overstocked archivesSam Smith, September 12, 2001 - Throughout the day came contrasting images of Americans. The indefatigably courageous rescue workers - turned gray and white by pulverized matter. The innocent survivors resourcefully joining hands to follow the one flashlight out of a building or using a cell phone to locate themselve […]
  • Urban farming in Singapore
    NPR […]
  • Climate change could affect the fall scene
    Think Progress - The phenomenon of brilliant red and gold autumn foliage might change due to the large amount of carbon dioxide we put in the atmosphere, and the resulting warmth that carbon traps inside.The higher concentration of carbon dioxide itself might actually make fall colors brighter, Howard Neufeld, a professor of physiological plant ecology at Ap […]
  • Links: Young America
    Young news Colleges & universities Generation gap Statistics Student loans & debt Groups CENTER FOR CAMPUS ORGANIZING EDUCATORS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBLITY STUDENTS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY STUDENT ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION COALITION Academic Freedom AD HOC COMMITTEE TO DEFEND THE UNIVERSITY FNDTN FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION Student Debt Student Debt […]
  • Pocket paradigms
    To accept the full consequences of the degradation of the environment, the explosion of incarceration, the creeping militarization, the dismantling of democracy, the commodification of culture, the contempt for the real, the culture of impunity among the powerful and the zero tolerance towards the weak, requires a courage that seems beyond us. We do not know […]
  • Recovered history: The real Clinton story
    Things the media forgets to tell you about the Clintons and the state that made them.1960s A federal investigation concludes that Hot Springs has the largest illegal gambling operations in the United States. Clinton goes to Georgetown University where he finds a mentor in Professor Carroll Quigley. Quigley writes: "That the two political parties should […]
  • Leading German journalist claims he was forced to write CIA propaganda under his name
    RT, Russia -  German journalist and editor Udo Ulfkotte says he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, adding that noncompliance ran the risk of being fired. “I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the German secret service,” Ulfkotte told R […]
  • Winners in Afghanistan: Corruption and the drug trade
     Paul Shinkman, US News - Corruption is tearing Afghanistan apart, fueled largely by an illegal drug trade that has reached new highs despite billions spent in U.S. counternarcotics efforts. And the U.S., leading up to a full withdrawal in 2016, does not have a plan to fight it.These are the findings of two new reports released over the last few days by the […]
  • What's happening
    Colorado health officials want to ban marijuana brownies @yesmagazine reports that the European Union sets the poverty level at 60% of median income. That's $30,832 in US. […]
  • Links: Words & Writing
    Words & writing news   ESSAYS ON WRITING Post literate America Words & meaning The missing predicate in my life SomeRulesForWriting L.L.C. (SRFW)! A few thoughts about writing Words and cruelty The rise of "fuck" What's a humanities? Cliche challenge Harder to read than Ulysses Just words on words     OTHER Pocket paradigmsQuotations   […]
  • Recovered history: The real Clinton story
    Sam Smith - One of the ways that politicians running for election handle embarrassing stories is to get them out of the way early.  This may explain Monica Lewinsky, after nearly twenty years of quietude, suddenly coming out with a speech in which she essentially blames it all on the media.  But as the conservative commentator Ben Shapiro correctly notes: Wh […]