Wind turbine project receives approval to provide
power to city of Los Angeles
Pine Tree Wind Project will generate up to 120
WM of renewable energy
Los Angeles, CA— The Los
Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of Commissioners
approved the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to move forward
with a new energy generation facility that will provide up to
120 megawatts (MW) of wind power for the city of Los Angeles.
The Pine Tree Wind project, which
also will be the largest municipally owned wind plant in the U.S.,
would provide enough
energy to power approximately 56,000 homes per year. Located in
the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, approximately 12 miles north
of Mojave, California, and 6 miles west of Highway 14, the project
consists of 80, 1.5 MW wind turbine generators as well as a 10-mile
transmission line and electrical substation.
The Board’s action paves
the way for construction of the project, slated to begin this
summer and take about 10 months to complete. LADWP expects to
seek approval of the construction contract from the Board and
City Council, as well as take steps to acquire the necessary permits,
in the next few months.
The Pine Tree Wind project will
be the largest wind energy system built in the Western U.S. since
passage of the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard
Although the state-mandated RPS
does not apply to municipal utilities such as LADWP, the Los Angeles
City Council approved an RPS resolution in 2004 that calls for
LADWP to increase the amount of energy it provides from renewable
power sources to 13 percent of its energy sales to retail customers
by 2010 and 20 percent by 2017.
A coalition of environmental
organizations — including the Coalition for Clean Air, Global
Green USA, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, and Physicians for Social
Responsibility-Los Angeles — voiced support for the project.
In terms of environmental benefits,
the Pine Tree Wind project is expected to lower emissions of nitrogen
oxides by at least 8 tons per year and emissions of carbon monoxide
by at least 11 tons per year. Further, emissions of carbon dioxide,
a “greenhouse” gas believed to contribute to global
warming, would be reduced by at least 200,000 tons per year. By
reducing use of fossil fuels, the project would also displace
LADWP’s annual gas costs by about $15 million per year.
The final EIR addresses two major
concerns raised during the environmental review process, including
the potential impact to birds that may come in contact with the
turbine blades, and potential conflicts between recreational users
and construction traffic on Jawbone Canyon Road.
In response to avian concerns,
LADWP completed additional avian surveys in fall 2004 and winter
2005. An avian specialist determined the site of the project is
not a major pathway or stopover for migrating birds. In addition,
the avian studies will continue through this spring and early
summer, and a qualified ornithologist will monitor bird mortality
incidents for one year following the first delivery of power.
The EIR contains language that requires LADWP to make operational
changes if there are disproportionately high levels of bird deaths
compared to other turbines on the site.
Announced in February 2003, LADWP
spent about a year designing a wind project that would minimize
potential impacts to sensitive environmental resources and that
would be compatible with military training activities. According
to the current design, the project will be built on approximately
8,000 acres (about 12.5 square miles) that was reduced from the
original 22,000-acre site, on privately owned property.