Leslie Pfardresher’s letter “Green light for ‘met’ towers a foot in the door” on Sunday, July 15, was right on target for what she presented – but it failed to address other grievous problems with the proposed wind “farm” in the Dunnigan Hills area. The sheer size of the proposal should have been better described. The area of interest extends from the town of Yolo following the western edge of Interstate 5 to Arbuckle and from Interstate 5 to the ridge line on the hills to the east of Cache Creek and State Hwy 16. This encompasses and area that is approximately 30 miles long by 10 miles wide. The proposal submitted to the County calls for a first phase of about 400 turbines, but does not mention follow-on phases. It is reasonable to assume additional phases of similar or larger size.
I agree with Pfardresher concerning the importance of the environmental effects of these 500 foot tall industrial power plants, but I am also very concerned about the cost impacts of these devices. Wind power is a very expensive, low quality power source. It has already raised the cost of electrical power in California by a substantial amount (reportedly about 18 percent), which will continue to increase as more wind turbines come on line. Wind power is so expensive that developers claim that they will go bankrupt if the $0.03 per kw-hour federal subsidy is stopped.
The high costs of wind turbines requires many subsidies, tax incentives, investment tax credits, feed-in tariffs, and other
sources of money funded by our tax dollars and rate payers. For example, State Legislature just passed AB 2551 which exempts property taxes to pay for infrastructure investments to support “renewable energy zones” from the requirement for a vote of the citizens. This bill authorizes a “legislative body” to establish an infrastructure financing district in a renewable energy zone area for the purpose of promoting renewable energy projects. The bill exempts the creation of the district from the normal two-third voter-approval requirement normally applicable to infrastructure financing plans. In other words, the county, city or other government body can declare an area to be a “renewable energy zone” and decide (without citizen approval) to impose local property taxes to pay for whatever infrastructure is deemed necessary.
The county and city governments have just been handed an open ended authority to add whatever amount they desire to property taxes without bringing the issue before the public; as long as they can make the case that it is used to promote large scale renewable energy projects (such as the proposed wind turbine site in the Dunnigan Hills). Clearly, new power lines, substations, roads or road improvements, and other related infrastructures will fall under this exemption. Not only will the people living in the Dunnigan Hills have to tolerate the effects of these monstrosities on their lives and property, but they will have to pay the extra costs out of their property taxes. I assume that all landowners in Yolo County will be included in the new tax structures.
The most frustrating part about the drumbeat for more and more wind power is that it is not effective, not efficient, is extremely expensive, does not significantly decrease the use of fossil fuels or reduced the emissions of green house gases – and is not necessary or needed. There are other, far better, solutions to the problems that we currently face and will face in the future. I am not speaking of increasing the use of coal, oil, nuclear, or anything like that. I am speaking of increased use of approaches such as distributed (“roof-top”) photovoltaic panels and increased efficiency in all things that use electricity.
There are adequate affordable resources to offset the wind turbines without causing the environmental impacts and while saving the user money far in excess of the costs. Wind turbines and large solar power plants are not the correct solution to our energy problems. They are very large, very expensive boondoggles that move huge amounts of taxpayer and rate payer dollars to a few very rich corporations, but they do little or no good with respect to solving the very real problems we are faced with. Options other than wind provide much greater employment opportunities and financial returns to the local governments and electricity users.
environmental/energy engineer, Zamora
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