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Windmill testing towers approved near Dillon Beach  

Credit:  By Nels Johnson, Marin Independent Journal, www.marinij.com 14 December 2010 ~~

Two ridgetop windmill research towers will rise north of Dillon Beach following a green light from county supervisors.

The county board voted 4-0 to reject an recommendation from the Planning Commission that more study be conducted to determine whether the facilities could trigger a bird slaughter.

The commission, in a 5-2 vote that flew in the face of a planning staff recommendation and zoning hearing officer decision, required an “initial study” or environmental review of a research tower plan that could lead to a windmill farm.

But NextEra Energy Inc. appealed to the county board, saying it wanted to erect two 197-foot-tall towers festooned with meteorological testing gear, a solar panel, electronic devices to transmit data, and four orange balls to alert aircraft.

Supervisors noted that despite protests from groups including Marin Audubon, studies indicated no great potential for harm to birds, a conclusion reached by a Point Reyes Bird Observatory official as well.

Barbara Salzman, head of Marin Audubon, had a one word reaction after the supervisors’ vote: “Crummy.”

At the urging of Supervisor Susan Adams, bird mortality will be tracked while the towers are up.

NextEra, a $21 billion energy company based in Florida with 15,000 employees in 28 states and Canada, wants to determine if there is enough wind to make a commercial energy operation worthwhile. NextEra operates more than 9,000 windmills on 77 wind farms across the nation and Canada.

One tower will be erected on a ridge on a 157-acre parcel owned by Jablons and Tamara Hicks at 5488 Middle Road. Dillon Beach is about 1.5 miles southwest of the site. Another will be on a ridgetop on a 291-acre parcel owned by Diane Gregory and Francis Cornett at 2640 Whitaker Bluff Road. Dillon Beach is about three miles southwest of the site.

NextEra, listed in the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NEE, is the nation’s largest generator of wind and sun power.

Source:  By Nels Johnson, Marin Independent Journal, www.marinij.com 14 December 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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