Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Save Our Desert from Large Wind Development

Over the weekend the Byway took us back down to the Mojave Desert to attend an important community meeting. It was a long way to travel to attend a meeting, but this meeting was that important. We were meeting with friends and neighbors from the Pioneertown and Pipes Canyon communities to discuss the unexpected bombshell that hit these communities with the discovery that the US Government, particularly the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has leased local government land, specifically two beautiful flat-topped mesas (Black Lava Butte and Flat Top Butte - two of the four only flat-topped mesas in California) to a potential wind developer - Black Lava Butte Renewables, a subsidiary of Element Power in Oregon.

How did the community learn about this? Only when helicopters and trucks came in and set up wind testing towers on the buttes. No one knew anything about this. How is that for the Government and greedy corporations "cooperating" with landowners and residents in the communities that will be impacted? Please take note of this lack of transparency. You may not be a part of this community, but keep in mind that allowing this kind of thing to happen in one community only gives strength to it happening later in other communities, possibly yours.

Don't get me wrong - I am a supporter of renewable energy. I work with renewable energy every day in my job! But the kind of renewable energy I work with, and support, is smaller scale, and the kind that local communities themselves are seeking to develop so that they, with no power, can finally have power. Our work involves communities and gives them what they want.

In the case of what is happening now in the Mojave Desert, we are talking about the development of a HUGE wind farm - 4000+ acres, with hundreds of wind turbines taller than the Statue of Liberty, on top of two majestic buttes. And this power wouldn't be developed because the neighboring communities wanted it and it probably wouldn't even go to the surrounding communities. This is power that would go to Los Angeles. We are talking big investors from Wall Street (apparently Goldman Sachs is involved). Large corporations stand to make a lot of money from government subsidies and the Mojave Desert and its communities will be screwed. You can say farewell to one of the few remaining beautiful, pristine areas in our desert wilds. There are other ways for the State of California to meet its noble goal of 33% power from renewable energy sources.

I do not support this kind of renewable energy development. I could write a few pages about why a giant wind farm is not good energy planning and why this is bad for the surrounding environment (environmental, health, safety, economic reasons) - but that is for later. Right now I just wanted to make you aware of the "Save the Desert" group that has been formed to fight this big wind development in this pristine desert landscape.

Please visit the "Save our Desert" website for more information -

We are seeking interested parties to help with our effort to protect the desert and stop this commercial wind farm development. If you are interested, contact me and I can share more information with you. If you have government, media and environmental connections who would be interested in assisting our efforts, please contact me.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and consider your support. I hope to hear from you.


  1. The lack of transparency is certainly disturbing. I appreciate that the buttes are beautiful as is, and as you know, we've seen some debate about wind energy back east. But we all use energy and we have to make some tough choices.
    I love the Virginia beach as it is, but I'd rather see wind turbines out in the sea than an oil platform.
    I see wind turbines in the mountains of PA and I find them graceful. But a handful of wind turbines doesn't replace our coal-burning power plants and nuclear reactors. We need large wind farms.
    I'm not saying that this particular fight isn't justified, but for wind energy (and solar, for that matter) to be a successful power source in North America, it's going to need more real estate, and the desert is where it's at.

  2. You mention you don't mind the wind turbines out at sea, but would you want them on your beaches? Siting is a tough issue and becoming tougher. European countries who have been the leaders in wind - Denmark for example - are now slowing down, reexamining and in some cases stopping further development. There are health, safety and environmental issues that need to be considered before siting and best to not site too close to communities. Serious accounting needs to be done because in some cases people are realizing that the wind farms aren't economical and aren't even doing much to counter greenhouse gas emissions when all calculations are made. You say the desert is where its at, but I could throw the same argument that unused or unproductive farm land is where its at, or siting right in urban blight and unused areas of cities, or the beautiful mountains back east. Mow down the trees and put up wind farms in all those mountain areas where there are no people. I don't want that to happen and would not support that - I am just saying that its tough when you start telling people that one area is more developable than another.