YUCCA VALLEY – The California Desert Coalition drummed up support for its resistance against a wind-turbine proposal Monday evening in the community center.
The energy project is proposed for Black Lava Butte and Flat Top Mesa north of Pipes Canyon Road between Pioneertown and Yucca Mesa.
The project is part of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, signed by Gov. Brown in April 2011. Under the bill, 33 percent of California’s commercially-produced electricity sales must come from renewable energy by 2020.
During her presentation, April Sall, chairwoman of the California Desert Coalition, walked about 85 attendees through a timeline of activities and future challenges.
The Bureau of Land Management in 2010 granted permits for two meteorological towers 197 feet tall to collect data on the wind atop Black Lava Butte and Flat Top Mesa. The towers were erected in July 2011.
Element Power, the project proponent, stated it will gather data for one year, then determine if the project merits further development, into a utility-scale farm of wind turbines.
If the company decides to build a turbine farm, it would also have to put up seven or eight miles of transmission lines to deliver the energy to existing power lines.
The California Desert Coalition and a second local group, Save Our Desert, are opposing the project.
“We need you all again,” Sall told the audience. “We want to get out in front of this project. Hopefully you will be inspired to continue to fight.”
Following the presentation, audience members posed questions to a panel composed of Sall, vice director Ruth Rieman, director Dave Miller and Frazier Haney, a Save Our Desert director.
Coalition members say the project will degrade residents’ views and could destroy American Indian rock art and other remnants of habitation.
The buttes, located north of Yucca Valley, are not part of the Desert Protection Act that was introduced to Congress in 2011. Save Our Desert is applying to have the buttes considered for protection as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
If the Department of the Navy proceeds with plans to expand the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base west into Johnson Valley, the wind towers, rising 195 feet above the top of the buttes, could interfere with low-flying aircraft that supports ground maneuvers, the two citizens’ groups say.
Panel members encouraged those present to sign petitions opposing the project, to circulate copies to others and send, “mailbags of postcards going in to Element Power directly.”
“We’re not making a value judgment about wind energy,” CDC Director Dave Miller stated during the panel discussion.
Instead, Miller said, the group advocates placement of utility-scale energy projects in locations that have already been affected and away from cultural and environmentally sensitive areas.
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