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SDG&E in legal tangle with Montana wind farms

Company allegedly stopped promised investments

NaturEner, which operates three wind farms in Montana, has filed a suit in Montana District Court against San Diego Gas & Electric, according to the publications North American Windpower and Power Engineering. Those three wind farms account for 62 percent of the wind-power generation in the state.

NaturEner charges SDG&E breached contracts to invest in the Rim Rock wind farm. SDG&E, a unit of San Diego's Sempra Energy, had agreed to invest $285 million in the Rim Rock farm and to buy renewable energy credits that are required under California law. SDG&E has been purchasing the credits since the project began 16 months ago, according to North American Windpower, but then notified NaturEner that it would not honor its commitment because NaturEner had not satisfied some contract provisions, such as protection of birds.

NaturEner denies the charge, noting that it has installed radar systems to locate eagles and that the company also employs biologists who can pause the operation if birds are in danger.

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NaturEner, which operates three wind farms in Montana, has filed a suit in Montana District Court against San Diego Gas & Electric, according to the publications North American Windpower and Power Engineering. Those three wind farms account for 62 percent of the wind-power generation in the state.

NaturEner charges SDG&E breached contracts to invest in the Rim Rock wind farm. SDG&E, a unit of San Diego's Sempra Energy, had agreed to invest $285 million in the Rim Rock farm and to buy renewable energy credits that are required under California law. SDG&E has been purchasing the credits since the project began 16 months ago, according to North American Windpower, but then notified NaturEner that it would not honor its commitment because NaturEner had not satisfied some contract provisions, such as protection of birds.

NaturEner denies the charge, noting that it has installed radar systems to locate eagles and that the company also employs biologists who can pause the operation if birds are in danger.

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14

I'm glad to read that radar is being used to help avoid bird strikes and that biologists are being employed to insure less bird deaths... I wonder how many biologists SDG&E employ (with or without radar technology) at their own wind farms if any and if they have the ability to "pause the operation if birds are in danger"?

BTW: Another often read CLAIM is that wind turbines kill too many birds but what is the truth about that claim:

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/10/31/canada-ranks-top-bird-killers-wind-turbines-even-close-top/#comment-1105186069

===> Links below are from one of my hero's Bob_Wallace who is a Super Moderator on cleantechnica.com

Based on bird kills per gigawatt hour of electricity produced.

Wind farms kill roughly 0.27 birds per GWh.

Nuclear plants kill about 0.6 birds per GWh. (2.2x wind)

Fossil-fueled power stations kill about 9.4 birds per GWh. (34.8x wind)

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/pa...

OK, so now we know that wind farms are not one of our birds' big problems. And we know that closing nuclear and coal plants and replacing them with wind farms would be better for the birds.

Note: The number of birds killed by wind turbines is decreasing each year...

In 2009 there were 12.5 bird kills per MW installed wind capacity.

In 2012 there were 9.5 bird kills per MW installed wind capacity.

That’s a 24% decrease. A very major improvement in bird safety.

Dec. 24, 2013

CaptD: Those are very interesting stats. But we hear all the time that wind turbines slaughter birds. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 24, 2013

Nerf blades? "Investing money" of a local Public Utility out of the area should be prohibited. The whole "energy credit" and "carbon credit" systems are shams, Indulgences do not reduce pollution as much as not producing it. Go Nuke and quit screwing around with moonbeams. A newly designed nuke in San Onofre could do dual duty as a desalination plant.

Dec. 25, 2013

CaptainObvious: Wow! That's quite a statement. A new nuke design at shuttered San Onofre could also serve as a desalination plant. If this is true, why aren't more scientists proposing it? Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 25, 2013

Nukes produce heat. Heat can distill seawater, It's not rocket science. I believe the first proposal for something like this was 60 years ago.

Dec. 25, 2013

CaptainObvious: But has it been political ennui that has prevented this coming to fruition, or is there some scientific problem? Nuclear waste is one problem. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 25, 2013

The problem with distillation / desalination is you're left with huge amounts of heavy brine which would devastate any section of ocean it was dumped into.

Dec. 30, 2013

jnojr: I hope Captain Obvious can address your point. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 30, 2013

It costs more to convert saltwater into fresh water than it does to refine crude oil into gasoline.

Dec. 31, 2013

Burwell: But in a water shortage, what else ya gonna do? Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 31, 2013

I work in this industry. I have worked on wind turbines in that part of the country. I was told a wind turbine has blades that are going 300 MPH at their tips. How can any bird avoid that? While working in the field one day, I found a small dead hawk beneath a turbine. The site manager collected the bird in a baggie and put in in the freezer for an investigation by an independent ecologist. The companies and their workers are not trying to hide these incidents. But as the Canadian article shows, other sources kill so many more birds. While I personally think turbines aren't as good a bet as solar for alternative power, I don't think the bird issue should be a major factor indetermining their existence.

Dec. 29, 2013

mridolf: Birders are a special breed of humans. They are passionate on the subject, and they vote. So you can see why there is controversy. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 30, 2013

It's understandable that mridolf favors a technology that he makes money from. The turbines should only be allowed to operate at night when few birds fly to minimize the losses. The effect of the turbines on bird populations is going to be worse than DDT if something is not done.

Dec. 30, 2013

Burwell: Yours is a point of view shared by many naturalists. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 31, 2013

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