June 2005

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 (RPS).

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.

 


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